City Plans ‘Friendly’ Land Taking to Further Protect Haverhill’s Drinking Water Supply

Public Works Director Robert E. Ward during an earlier appearance before the Haverhill City Council. (WHAV News file photograph.)

To protect the city’s drinking water supply, the Haverhill City Council voted Tuesday to take by eminent domain land on Groveland Bridge Road abutting the East Meadow River.

The Council agreed to the purchase the land several months ago, but there was a title issue, requiring a re-evaluation of the exact dimensions of the property. In doing so, another problem came to light. City Solicitor William D. Cox Jr. explained.

“So we were able to clear that discrepancy up and we came across another issue—that state law and our charter prohibit us from purchasing real estate that exceeds 125 percent of the average assessed valuation over the preceding years, and that figure was only about $41,000 and the purchase price here is $272,000,” Cox said.

Because of that, he said, the city may only purchase the property using an order of taking or eminent domain. Deputy DPW Director Robert E. Ward explained why the property is important to the city.

“So the property is located adjacent to the East Meadow River. The East Meadow River flows directly into the Millvale Reservoir and roughly 60 percent of our drinking water over the course of any given year is pumped from the Millvale Reservoir to Kenoza Lake,” he explained. (See plan of land below.)

Cox explained the current owner understands the need for this type of purchase arrangement and it is a friendly transfer.

The council voted unanimously to approve the purchase.

In other business, councilors approved a special permit for the construction of a three-family building at 33 Eighth Ave.

The builder, Snow Cassell, seeks to replace a long-vacant and rundown single-family home with three condominiums.

Councilors praised the plan. Councilor Thomas J. Sullivan said that area was particularly important to him because his family comes from there.

“I want to thank Snow Cassell for their investment in this area. It definitely is in need of redevelopment. This sounds like a good quality proposal. It’s good to see Eighth Avenue getting this positive housing, and hopefully will lead to even more,” he said.

The council vote 9-0 to approve the project request.

Owners of the Amesbury Road land are listed as Richard P. Early Sr., trustee of D and D Realty Trust.

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