Updated: Lake St. Rezoning Request Before Councilors Tuesday

City Councilor Colin F. LePage.

An earlier version of this story suggested the hearing would be postponed to assure the participation of a city councilor who was expected to be absent. However, Councilor Colin F. LePage (pictured above) is now expected to deliberate with his colleagues via telephone.

Haverhill city councilors will have a public hearing on a proposed Lake Street zoning change, which has drawn opposition from neighbors at or near the West Meadow Hill condominium development.

Attorney Robert D. Harb had proposed rescheduling the hearing to Sept. 8 when he learned Councilor Colin F. LePage would be unable to attend. However, city council secretary Barbara Arthur confirmed this morning LePage will participate by telephone. The hearing centers on a petition from property owner Eileen F. Petrocelli to rezone 7.8 acres at 95 Lake St., Haverhill, from rural residential (RR) to residential medium (RM).  The rezoning proposal would also amend a zoning district boundary map ,which currently places a portion of the property under RM zoning. The petition received a favorable recommendation from the Haverhill Planning Board following a public hearing April 8, during which “no opposition was received from the city departments.”

“The sense of the planning board was that, while this change will potentially allow the development of more lots on the site, the size of future lots in the RM configuration would not be inconsistent with the lots in the surrounding neighborhood,” Economic Development and Planning Director William Pillsbury Jr. wrote to the council. “It was further noted that the development of this site still requires approval by the conservation commission and a definitive plan before the planning board to establish actual lots sizes and configurations.”

Abutters and others, including 312 owner-members of the West Meadow Hill Condominium Association, 800 Broadway, have petitioned the council against the rezoning request. The association argues properties westerly and southwesterly of the development’s property line “have historically been and should continue to be zoned RR.”

“The current zoning line dividing RR/RM was drawn based on an ‘arbitrary’ 700 foot distance from the center line of Lake Street,” the board of managers of West Meadow Hill Condominium Association said in a letter. “This line also caused two portions of West Meadow property, parts of West Parish Court and Danforth Court, to erroneously fall in the RR zone when it is clear that all of West Meadow was and should continue to be, zoned RM.” The association also points out a redrawn zone line reflecting the development’s west and southwest portions of its property line would alleviate those problems.

Comments to the council by e-mail from individuals oppose a zoning change at 95 Lake Street for concerns potential redevelopment under a zoning change would bring, among others, a “loss of (these) woodlands and wildlife” and “could lower the property values” and impact traffic and city services in the area. A council hearing was previously continued in June after a meeting with “numerous neighbors” was held, according to Harb.

“As a general principle of zoning, it is appropriate to change the zone lines in cases where the line runs randomly through a site and make the zone lines consistent with the lot lines. This is the case in this situation,” Pillsbury added.

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

One thought on “Updated: Lake St. Rezoning Request Before Councilors Tuesday

  1. This is whats wrong with Haverhill zoning. Allowing this RR to a RM zone would be granting 4 times the allowable building lots. Down the road its a surprise that we need to add a new school or schools and the taxpayers get angry. This means more homes on smaller lots. Call it what you will and use the argument its like the other neighborhood homes in the area but just think ahead. Leaving the zoning RR will allow higher end homes to be built and attract upper income families to come to town.
    Haverhill has literally thousands of low income or taxpayer subsidized housing planned or in progress right now.
    Here is a link to zoning and lot sizes for Haverhill.
    Haverhill needs a good mix of all incomes.