North Ave. Assisted Living Housing Developer Files Suit Against City

The developer of a proposed 90-unit assisted and independent living complex off North Avenue has filed suit against the Haverhill City Council in an attempt to restart the project.

Lawyers for Continental Wingate Development Company of Needham said the city councilors “exceeded its authority” in denying a special zoning permit for the project. The suit was filed in Essex County Land Court last month.

“Wingate is aggrieved by the council’s decision, as the applicant and petitioner for zoning relief,” reads the suit filed by attorney Donald F. Borenstein of Johnson and Borenstein, Andover. The suit, which claims the council’s decision violates both the Haverhill Zoning Code and Massachusetts Zoning Act, asks to court to not only reverse the city council decision, but also pay the developer’s legal costs.

The developer cites endorsement of the project by the city planning department and school departments. The planning department is quoted as saying the units “…would be a positive addition to the marketplace for this component of the housing supply by adding to the supply of assisted living and independent living units which are currently underrepresented in the city’s housing stock.”

Most city councilors cited traffic concerns as their reason for voting against the special permit.

Councilor William Macek, who is also a neighbor of the North Avenue and Concord Street intersection, believed the traffic mitigation plans were insufficient.

“I have a large concern as a resident on Concord Street. I use Concord Street and North Avenue multiple times a day usually. I know what the traffic impact is at various times of the day. I see it. And I don’t think that what’s being proposed is really a solution in any way to the problems that currently exist. And I also think that it wouldn’t be up to Wingate to be the ultimate solution, but I think that the mitigation is not sufficient to even address a small increase of traffic which would be brought by the facility,” Macek said.

 

The company is affiliated with Wingate Health which locally owns skilled nursing homes Wingate at Haverhill, 190 North Ave., and Wingate at Andover, 80 Andover St., Andover. The company is operated by Scott and Gerald Schuster.