Fiorentini Vetoes His Admin’s Own Downtown Land Taking Bill

Haverhill Mayor James J. Fiorentini has vetoed his administration’s own bill to take downtown land by eminent domain.

In a letter to city councilors, Fiorentini called his action a “friendly veto,” required because of technical concerns raised by City Solicitor William D. Cox Jr. The order of taking nearly two weeks ago included both temporary and permanent easements to support access to the private $68 million Harbor Place project. The easements principally affect one of only two buildings between Main Street and the Landmark Building not purchased by developers. Details were not available, but corrected documents to address those concerns are expected to go before the council during their meeting Tuesday night.

In exchange for easements for “utilities, pilings and other improvements,” the city is offering $10,000 to the owners of 60 Merrimack Street, which houses North East Behavioral Health. Economic and Planning Director William Pillsbury told councilors the building owner has not agreed to the terms, prompting the forced land taking.

D. R. Locke LLC, operated by Douglas R. Locke, 5 Middleton Road, Boxford, is listed as owner. Locke purchased the property for $3.1 million in 2007.

Also, in a related matter on the agenda, councilors are expected to vote on an ordinance to create a medical patient drop-off zone outside 56-74 Merrimack Street. The building houses North East Behavioral Health and Angel Care Kids. The drop-off zone would be established to protect the businesses during Harbor Place construction.

The Haverhill City Council meets at 7 p.m.,Tuesday, in council chambers at Haverhill City Hall.