Haverhill Council Asks for New Focus on City’s Rural Areas, Especially Near Water Supplies

Haverhill City Hall. (WHAV News file photograph.)

The Haverhill City Council endorsed two plans Tuesday to protect the city’s rural areas—particularly those that could affect Haverhill’s water supply.

The first, introduced by Councilor John A. Michitson, called for a City Council Planning and Development Committee meeting to address the current zoning practices regarding residential growth in rural areas.

“I recommend that (Economic and Planning Director) Bill Pillsbury present the current zoning and protections to the Council and that the master plan consultant, Utile, present examples of what other communities are doing to manage residential growth in rural neighborhoods,” Michitson said.

Councilor William J. Macek, a member of the Planning and Development Committee, pointed out the Council recently revamped the city’s zoning ordinances, but agreed there are some areas that could possibly use some tweaking.

The Council agreed unanimously with the proposal.

In a related matter, Councilor Joseph J. Bevilacqua said the city lacks a predictive plan to identify critically important watershed lands.

“What I’m suggesting is that we develop a plan that has analyzed the open space lands within the city and evaluated their importance to the city’s watershed and prioritized the need to acquire those specific parcels for our watershed protection,” he said.

The councilor added a critical part of this plan would be to ensure input from the general public. He noted how a recent decision by Mayor James J. Fiorentini not to pursue the purchase of a 22.5-acre parcel at 97 Corliss Hill Road left neighbors and other concerned citizens unable to offer comments on the matter.

The Council agreed to send a letter to the mayor, water department, Public Works Department, city solicitor and others asking them to develop such a plan as soon as possible.

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