Amesbury Road Hotel May Move Forward; City Reviews Sewer Issues

Haverhill City Council President John A. Michitson.

City Council President John A. Michitson.

Plans to construct a 60-unit hotel off Amesbury Road in Haverhill may move ahead now that court action has reportedly been resolved.

According to Haverhill City Council President John A. Michitson, city Economic Development and Planning Director William Pillsbury Jr. believes litigation has been resolved and the developer will next update the city on its next steps “so that the city can evaluate the status of the approvals.”

“Interestingly enough, a special permit lasts for two years, but the litigation and also the state’s Permit Extension Act may have extended that two year period,” Michitson said.

Mayor James J. Fiorentini appeared before the council as Michitson requested a motion to send a letter to the mayor. Fiorentini confirmed the developer plans to go forward after a conversation he had Tuesday.

“I hesitate to be the messenger that relays that because this is the fifth…or tenth conversation I’ve had with him over the past two years, where he says he’s going forward. I’ve asked him to come in and go over it with me and as soon as I get a further update I’ll let you know,” Fiorentini said.

Michitson requested Tuesday’s discussion on the planned hotel and “the status of potential sewer hookups for residents in the neighborhood.” On Feb. 26, 2013, the council approved a special permit for a developer Miami Stuart Realty to construct a hotel behind a recently constructed gas station on Amesbury Road. Neighbors anticipated a sewer line extension and new “lift station” would be provided by the developer to allow residential sewer tie-ins. However, the gas station did not need to tie in to the city sewer, Michitson said. In response, Councilor Thomas J. Sullivan said whether or not the hotel project moves forward, he believed the city has an obligation to provide sewer lines along Amesbury Road, at the least.

Haverhill City Councilor Thomas J. Sullivan.

Haverhill City Councilor Thomas J. Sullivan.

“Even if it’s over a long term period of time, if we could bring it so many feet, or miles. That whole area is without city sewerage and to me it’s rather strange that such a nice area that has seen a lot of development over the past decade or so… it still doesn’t have it, at least on the main road,” Sullivan said.

Fiorentini also called for a “long discussion starting in committee” on a sewer extension policy and who would pay for it, whether through betterment assessment or shared responsibility among ratepayers.

“Ultimately we have to extend sewer. I really believe that the future of Haverhill depends upon this,” Fiorentini said. “We have to do it, there’s going to be some political resistance to this. What happens in the neighborhoods is this: the people who have old worn out septic systems with Title 5 problems come in, they’re all excited, they want the sewer work. The couple that just spent $50,000 on a brand new sewer system, they are wild…. We tell them, ‘you don’t have to hook up, but you’re still going to get an assessment for running a line up the street.’ They are absolutely wild. They don’t want it.”

In a separate Amesbury Road matter, councilors denied, without discussion and by an 8 to 0 vote, an auctioneer license request for George A. Sacco, Revere, to operate a proposed auction house at 977 Amesbury Road. The request was previously denied by police Chief Alan R. DeNaro for “problem location…not enough parking… owner has a history on noncompliance with city ordinance,” according to council documents.