Neighbors oppose plan for apartments

AMANDA SABGA/Staff photoThe view from Kim Pass' High Street, North Andover home. Pass is one of many neighbors opposing a building project proposed in the now-empty lot. It would consist of two five-story buildings totaling 250 units with more than 400 parking spaces. 

NORTH ANDOVER — The Planning Board will likely face a large number of angry residents Tuesday night.

The board is scheduled to hold a hearing on AvalonBay Communities' proposal to build 250 apartments behind High Street. A petition opposing the apartments had been signed by 830 residents as of Friday evening.

"We hope to have 1,000 by Tuesday," said Steven Saraceno, of 102 High St., who lives near the site.

AvalonBay wants to construct two apartment buildings on a vacant lot between the Sutton Pond Condominiums and High Street. Besides the five-story buildings, the applicant also intends to erect a swimming pool, gymnasium, outdoor fireplace and lounge areas.

Saraceno and many other residents of the neighborhood have vowed to attend the Planning Board's meeting in the Senior Center, 120R Main St. The meeting will begin at 7 p.m.

"I don't think it's right," Saraceno said. If approved, the project will "overbuild the area," he said. Saraceno, a builder and engineer, noted the proposed location of the apartments is close to wetlands.

Besides the Planning Board, AvalonBay will also need approval from the Conservation Commission, he said.

Saraceno pointed out North Andover's population has grown substantially over the last few years. The town's population was 27,202 in 2000 and 28,352 in 2010, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. The population was estimated at 31,296 as of July 1, 2018, the Census Bureau reported.

"The town doesn't need it," he said of the AvalonBay proposal.

Sally Finnimore, of 90 High St., who also lives near the site, organized the petition drive against the apartments. The petition reads in part:

"The development of numerous new apartment complexes in North Andover is too much too quickly. Within 1.6 miles, approximately 629 apartments are being built, have been approved, or are being proposed.

"With the new Avalon Bay High Street project up for review, there are many concerns that arise with this rate of building in such a small area."

The concerns mentioned in the petition include increased traffic in the neighborhood, disruption to wetlands and wildlife, noise, light and dust pollution, taking away the "look and feel" of a historic, residential neighborhood, decline in abutters' home values and placing more demand on schools, public safety services and sewers.

Headquartered in Arlington, Virginia, AvalonBay Communities Inc. owned 78,365 rental apartments as of Jan. 31, according to the company's website. AvalonBay's properties are located in New England, the New York City and Washington, D.C. metropolitan areas, California and Washington state.

The company owns apartment buildings in Andover and Peabody. AvalonBay could not be reached for comment for this story.