EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

January 30, 2013

Familiar site returns in Andover Town Yard proposal

Special Town Meeting possible to address issue

By Dustin Luca

---- — ANDOVER — After Town Meeting rejected a plan to relocate the Town Yard to Campanelli drive last year for $18.5 million, the property has come up twice in a four-member pocket of private land offerings for the project.

The town recently conducted a request for proposals (RFP), asking those with private land in town suitable for housing the Town Yard to bring their parcels forward. Four developers responded with their offerings, but only two are being considered, according to Town Manager Reginald “Buzz” Stapczynski.

Of the two potential candidates, a proposal for around 7 acres of buildable land on Campanelli Drive — the focus of last year’s Annual Town Meeting proposal — has returned. The other, from Boston-based CB Richard Ellis, offers around 11 acres of land on Lowell Junction Road, according to Stapczynski.

The Campanelli Drive land is being offered to the town for $3.5 million, the same price it was offered for last year, Stapczynski said.

As officials discussed the earlier proposal, the site was criticized after it was learned that the owner, The Gutierrez Company in Burlington, acquired it at a much lower price.

Two other requests were considered ineligible, Stapczynski said. A 7.8 acre offering on 146 Dascomb Road for $6 million, offered by SKW Partners of Boston, was rejected because the paperwork for it wasn’t filled out properly.

The Dascomb Road property was offered to the town as part of it’s 2010 Annual Town Meeting proposal, which then was $15.3 million for around 23 acres from the site. That plan was pulled from the Town Meeting floor prior to a vote taking place.

The other rejected proposal, submitted by Brickstone Properties in Andover, offered to trade the Campanelli Drive property for the town’s land on Lewis Street. The proposal made the offer “for no consideration other than a trade,” meaning it wouldn’t have cost the town anything to acquire the land, Stapczynski said.

The proposal is ineligible because “we didn’t ask for a trade,” Stapczynski said. “We asked for someone to sell it.”

Board of Selectmen Chairman Paul Salafia said the trade offer is “a very unlikely scenario” due to untold legal issues.

After hearing about the RFP response at a Board of Selectmen meeting Monday, Salafia said the process was informational.

Where the town goes with the Town Yard will rely mostly on the outcome of a Town Meeting vote, where officials are pitching new zoning options for the current Town Yard’s home on Lewis Street.

If Town Meeting approves the zoning, officials would move forward with relocating the Town Yard away from Lewis Street, Salafia said. If residents reject the zoning pitch, Town Yard will be rebuilt at its present home.

The next steps — and a final vote to finance the relocation or reconstruction of the Town Yard — could come later this year, according to Salafia.

“If there is a mandate to re-zone and rebuild off-site, and it’s the strong feeling of the taxpayers, then we’ll proceed as quickly as possible,” he said. “If that means a Special Town Meeting, that means a Special Town Meeting.”

For more Andover news, follow @DustinLucaET on Twitter. For feedback and story-related inquiries, email dluca@eagletribune.com.