90-Unit North Avenue Assisted Living Plan May Get Second Chance

A Wingate Healthcare location in Haverhill. (File photograph.)

The complex would be adjacent to Wingate at Haverhill, 190 North Ave.

Developers of a 90-unit assisted living complex, previously rejected by the council and now in litigation, are getting a second chance to make a pitch the project.

By a unanimous 7 to 0 vote, councilors Tuesday night approved a request from City Solicitor William D. Cox Jr. to allow Continental Wingate Development Company present an alternative plan to build on about eight acres of land owned by the McGirr Family Trust, off North Avenue. The public hearing is scheduled Dec. 29. Councilors William H. Ryan and Michael S. McGonagle were absent. Continental Wingate 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. Councilor William J. Macek, who seconded the motion by Councilor Mary Ellen Daly O’Brien, said many such cases usually end up in compromise.

“This is a winner take all situation the way it stands right now. I think it’s always good to look at alternatives and maybe find some ground where it’s acceptable to the neighborhood and also acceptable to Wingate to move forward,” Macek said. “I think we shouldn’t shut the door on them. We can always say ‘no’ again. I’m not saying I’m going to say ‘yes’ but let’s see what they have to offer.”

Councilor Thomas J. Sullivan also noted the current council will still have the opportunity to hear the alternate proposal.

“We may not accept it, it may not be acceptable to the neighborhood. We know it won’t be acceptable to some neighbors but perhaps we should give them a chance to come back and offer something different to us that may make more sense,” Sullivan said. “And for the greater good, maybe it will pass, maybe it won’t, but if it doesn’t hurt our position we have nothing to lose by allowing them to come back.”

Cox told councilors litigation with Continental Wingate was still in a discovery phase, but also could potentially go to a pre-trial hearing by March.

“What we would then do is ask the court to remand the case back to you so that you would have legal authority to make a decision in the case. And we would then send out the appropriate notices. They would need to, obviously, also file their proposal so that you as well as anybody else who wants to look at it would have adequate time to evaluate it before the public hearing,” Cox said.

Last February, the council unanimously rejected the Continental Wingate proposal after hearing traffic and quality of life concerns from neighbors near the North Avenue and Concord Street intersection, including Macek. He said the traffic mitigation plans were insufficient. He also suggested another location would be better suited for the proposed facility, which would create assisted living and memory care housing units, among others.

In March, lawyers for Continental Wingate filed suit in Essex County Land Court, claiming the city council “exceeded its authority” in denying a special zoning permit for the project.

Councilor Colin F. LePage, said he would be away Dec. 29, but would participate in the public hearing by remote teleconference.

One thought on “90-Unit North Avenue Assisted Living Plan May Get Second Chance

  1. If you thought this was done last time think again. The Mayor is behind the revival of this issue. Don’t be fooled people. Nothing, NOTHING, happens without his ok so vent your anger in his direction if you must !