Council Plans Hearing on Revised North Ave. Housing Project

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

The project is associated with Wingate at Haverhill.

A downsized proposal to bring a 64-unit assisted living complex off North Avenue goes to a public hearing Tuesday night before the Haverhill City Council.

In a proposal to settle pending litigation, Continental Wingate Development Co. is asking councilors to consider a revised special permit request after their rejection last February of a 90-unit complex on about eight acres of land owned by the McGirr Family Trust. Offering a 30 percent reduction, Continental Wingate proposes to eliminate 20 independent living units, decrease assisted living units from 46 to 32 and increase, by eight, the number of memory care units to 32. The downsized project would occupy about 55,000 gross square feet, down from 78,348 square feet.

The plan also doubles traffic mitigation spending by an added $200,000. The amount includes $132,000 to construct 1,200 feet of sidewalk along the western portion of North Avenue between the existing Wingate at Haverhill facility and West Gile Street, $40,000 for radar speed detection signs on North Avenue and Concord Street, $20,500 for pedestrian signage on both streets and “pedestrian activated rectangular rapid flashing beacons” on North Avenue, $2,500 for an Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) ramp at the crosswalk on Concord Street, $5,000 for landscaping in front of John Greenleaf Whittier Middle School and $200,000 toward the city’s traffic improvement plans on North Ave. Should the council “elect to eliminate certain individual components” of proposed mitigation, a similar amount would be added to the contribution for the city.

“The maximum amount that Wingate will spend on off-site mitigation and its contribution to the North Avenue study is capped at $400,000. The allocation of the funds between mitigation and the study is open for negotiation as part of the proposal to be submitted at the remand hearing,” said Continental Wingate Vice President of Real Estate David Feldman in a letter. “To avoid any confusion, it is only the additional off-site mitigation requirements imposed by the planning board that would reduce the amount of money available to the mayor for the North Avenue improvements.”

City Economic Development and Planning Director William Pillsbury Jr. recommends the council approve the special permit with “any conditions approved by the city council being added to the definitive plan for approval by the planning board.”

“I have reviewed the traffic report and being aware of concerns regarding issues at the intersection of Concord Street and North Avenue, I believe the proposal of the applicant to essentially move the main entrance to the new roadway will have a positive effect on conditions at that intersection by removing staff and visitor turning movements from the intersection to the new roadway,” Pillsbury said Thursday.

Pillsbury added he found “no objection” in comments received from other city departments. “This project represents significant investment in the city and will provide substantial new tax revenue and additional jobs to the existing Wingate nursing home complex.”

City Environmental Health Technician Robert E. Moore Jr., on behalf of the Haverhill Conservation Commission, offered no objections to granting a special permit for the modified proposal.

“While the current proposal reduces the footprint of development, work will still be proposed within the jurisdiction of the Commission,” Moore said. “Therefore, the applicant must still pursue design approval from the Commission following any approval of either plan by the city council.”

The Haverhill City Council meets at 7 p.m., Tuesday, in Theodore A. Pelosi Jr. Council Chambers at Haverhill City Hall.