City Council Allows 10 Condominiums for Ward Hill Site

City Councilor William J. Macek.

Amended plans will bring a new, 10-unit condominium development to the site of a former automotive repair shop off route 125 in Ward Hill.

After lengthy discussion and several amendments, Haverhill city councilors voted 7 to 2 in favor of granting a special permit to developer Robert Ahern for RKACO LLC, Tewksbury, to construct, at 2 Cross Road, two buildings containing three condominium units and a third building with four units. It represents another downward revision from the originally proposed 13 units to a developer-revised 12 units prior to Tuesday’s public hearing. Debate among councilors considered reducing the development to a minimum of nine units out of traffic concerns from neighbors, as well as for adequate parking and wetlands situated on the site.

Councilor William J. Macek, who supported nine units, expressed concern about the development’s future should unsold condominiums become rentals and impact what he called “good family living” in the neighborhood.

“With all due respect, I think this can be a good project but if it doesn’t have adequate parking, if it’s not compatible to good family living, it’s going to turn into a rental ghetto and that’s the last thing I want to see. So, with that in mind, I still think nine is the right number,” Macek said.

Attorney Michael J. Migliori, representing RKACO, believed 11 units would make the project viable on hopes environmental issues on the former repair shop “don’t get any worse than it is.” However, he said the developer would try to make the project viable with 10 units.

“The other option is not anything anybody wants to see in the city. As I told you, the bankruptcy court is ready to abandon the property and there’s nobody lined up behind us; commercial or residential or otherwise, there’s nobody we know of out there. We’ll do the best we can with ten but… it’s on the cusp. Nine won’t do it, eleven we think would do it as long as we don’t get blindsided by any more bad news on an environmental front. We’re willing to take a chance with ten,” Migliori said.

Haverhill City Council Vice President Robert H. Scatamacchia.

Haverhill City Council Vice President Robert H. Scatamacchia.

Council Vice-President Robert H. Scatamacchia said the project’s positives outweigh the negatives, but called the approval process a “damned if you do, damned if you don’t situation.”

“I think the process is backwards. I think that all of the issues should be at the planning board, the conservation, the appeals board if they have to then come to us but that’s not how it is. So, we have to live by the rules that we have today and I just want to say that I’m going to support this. I think that there are so many positives, more positives than negatives on the project. It’s going to be cleaned; the city may not have to take it over and, you know, I ask any of the people in opposition to drive by some of the neighborhoods where the city has taken away vacant properties that are just empty lots now, overgrown messes,” Scatamacchia said.

Among the council’s project amendments, an eight-foot privacy fence would be constructed on the Bradstreet Avenue side of the lot, as well as winter snow restrictions for the parking areas and an emergency vehicle access gate on Bradstreet Avenue. A definitive plan must still be approved by the Haverhill planning board.

In other council action Tuesday, a new contract agreement between the city and the firefighters union is on the books. Without discussion, councilors unanimously amended then approved the contract agreement for fire services members of the IAFF, Local 1011.

It provides union members a 3 percent pay increase retroactive to 2013 under an agreement reached with the city in late July.

The amendment reflects corrections to the contract’s salary listings with a 1.5 percent raise effective July 1 for the positions of captain, training lieutenant and training deputy.

One thought on “City Council Allows 10 Condominiums for Ward Hill Site

  1. Delay after delay and the developer and attorney win. How many times should those in opposition have to go and only be told that more time is needed to present it. What makes it more frustrating is that this brought forward during the summer months.
    The city makes note of how it will improve the area. Yes it may but why did the city allow this property to become the hazard it is now.
    A junk yard with buried parts and other hazardous waste…. Who is going to monitor the removal? hope its not the city….
    If it doesn’t wok out maybe we can get another nail salon and Dunkin Donuts at the site..