Town needs real action on development
To the editor:
Members of the Berry Street Neighborhood Association (BSNA) met this week in advance of what is likely to be the last Zoning Board hearing (Dec. 10, 7:30 p.m., at the Town Hall) on the 40B project proposed for the old Andover Riding Academy, and two issues were raised repeatedly as we reflected on its size and design: precedents and accountability.
The BSNA would like all elected, appointed and hired town officials to ask themselves what kind of precedent are you willing to set in this instance? Yes, the law intentionally constrains towns from preventing this type of construction, but it does not prevent towns from placing real and appropriate constraints on those who develop and manage these oversize developments. Town officials in Stoneham seem to have no problem allocating a quarter of a million of their residents’ tax dollars to better control the permitting of 40Bs; officials in Haverhill seem to have no problem fighting them for decades; and it is time for all who play a role in the management and planning of the town of North Andover to stop behaving as if each 40B approval application is a complete surprise. There is no surprise here. You all know that we are not at the 10-percent affordable housing required by the law. Do something about it. Do it well. And do it while showing respect for current voting, tax-paying citizens of this town, and to the benefit of the future residents of these developments.
This is where accountability comes into play. Months ago the BSNA received a letter from a group of residents currently living in one of the town’s 40Bs. The letter described the poor construction and poor management of their particular development, and the town has expressed an awareness of these problems. Then do something about it. Require significant bonds to be posted by 40B developers to hold them accountable against potential damages to current and future residents and employ the same oversight you would if this were happening in your own back yards. The law does not constrain you from engaging in intelligent and comprehensive oversight.