Council Grants Special Permit for All-Residential Building Near Downtown Haverhill

Developer Timothy Woodland appeared remotely.

The City Council gave its okay last night to a special permit creating five apartments in an existing building near downtown Haverhill.

The property, located at 149-153 Washington St., was recently purchased by Timothy Woodland with the idea of converting the building into five residential units. Currently, the building, which was constructed around 1900, consists of two residential units on the second floor and an unused commercial space on the first floor. Developer Timothy Woodland described his plans for the building.

“The plan is for the three residential units on the bottom floor. One of them is going to be a two-bedroom, one of them would be a one-bedroom and the last one would be a studio. The second floor is split down the middle from front to back. Each of them is a two-bedroom,” said Woodland.

The project previously received conditional approval from Economic and Planning Director William Pillsbury Jr., who told the Council the project was consistent with the housing stock in the surrounding neighborhood and would likely improve property values.

Councilors William J. Macek and Joseph J. Bevilacqua, however, said the property should continue to be commercial on the ground floor to be consistent with previous rulings.

Councilor Thomas J. Sullivan, on the other hand, said this is exactly the kind of project the city needs in that neighborhood.

“This is a very modest proposal. This is not in the downtown proper. It’s on the outskirts of downtown. I will also point out that commercial properties right now are not at a premium, but residential units are. We need more residential housing downtown,” he said.

Councilor Mary Ellen Daly O’Brien floated a compromise proposal to eliminate the studio apartment and have only four residential units.

In the end, however, the Council voted 6-3 to allow Woodland to move ahead with his development as planned with Council President Melinda E. Barrett and Councilors Bevilacqua, and Macek opposed.

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