Recent Conservation Walk-Through Reveals Why Ornsteen Industrial Land Could Not Be Preserved

Haverhill Conservation Commissioner Ralph T. Basiliere, center, is no stranger to muddy site walks. Here he is in 2019 with Zoo New England Field Technician Ryan Roseen and Field Biologist Julie Lisk in the field. (WHAV News file photograph.)

A recent walk-through of the Ornsteen Heel property by the Haverhill Conservation Commission delivered another perspective on the property’s redevelopment that was approved 8-1 by city councilors Tuesday night. (See separate story.)

Commissioners Ralph T. Basiliere and Thomas Wylie and city Environmental Health Technician Robert E. Moore Jr. toured the site and found various remnants of the former factory.

“We determined that the Ornsteen property was, in fact, under the Wetlands Protection Act regulations a mill property,” Basiliere said.

The designation is important since the state exempts “Any riverfront area that is now or formerly associated with historic mill complexes including but not limited to mill complexes in Holyoke, Taunton, Fitchburg, Haverhill, Methuen and Medford.”

Triggering the historic mill structure rule makes sense to Basiliere.

“Development may be the best option because what we found there was nothing that resembled a forested riverbank side New England setting,” he explained.

Basiliere was careful to note the exemptions to the Rivers Protection Act do not extend to the Skateland property and adjacent former gasoline station.

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