Haverhill City Council Moves to Delay Housing and Storage Public Hearings During Current Emergency

(Architect’s rendering.)

Haverhill city councilors are postponing at least two public hearings planned for tomorrow night, citing the current state of emergency.

The delays affect separate proposals to convert a three-family apartment building into a four-family one and permit the location of self-storage containers near the old Building 19 store. With the ban on public gatherings of more than 10 people, councilors delayed the hearings. City Council President Melinda E. Barrett cited the opinion of the city’s outside lawyers in moving the hearings to May 5 and June. 2 respectively.

“The chair of a permit granting authority may schedule or reschedule on one or more occasions, a hearing or decision deadline on a permit application…to a date not more than 45 days after the termination of the State of Emergency or after a date otherwise prescribed by law, whichever is later,” Barrett wrote, quoting lawyers from KP Law.

In the case of the apartment application, Lynn Garceau of 367 Hilldale Ave., wishes to connect an existing three-family apartment building to an adjacent barn to create four apartments.

U-Haul Co. is separately proposing to renovate the former Building 19 into 81,000 square feet of self-storage, 10,000 square feet of warehousing and 25,000 square feet of showrooms. In a letter to the Council, U-Haul says. “The location of the self-storage containers is crucial to U-Haul’s business plan.” (See previous WHAV story.)

The city’s Appeals Board had already granted a variance to applicant Norwood Group of Bedford, N.H., but a special permit is also required from the City Council. Regulations require permits for use of not more than two storage containers or one for more than six months. Normally, the city is required to hold public hearings within a limited period or risk granting the permits by default.

In other business before the City Council, Council Vice President Colin F. LePage wants to know the administration’s current plans for maintenance of city buildings, including schools.

This past January, councilors voted 7 to 2 in favor of a new plan by Mayor James J. Fiorentini to spend $12,500 of city money on a study of options. The school department was to match the amount. The plan replaced the mayor’s proposal of last June to hire a maintenance director at a cost of $100,000 a year.

The Haverhill City Council meets remotely at 7 p.m., Tuesday night.

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