Councilors Vote 7-1 to Approve Zoning to Allow 153 Apartments at DiBurro’s Site in Ward Hill

Proposed Ward Hill site plan.

Following a lengthy discussion over the inclusion of commercial space in a plan to construct 153 apartments at the site of DiBurro Function Facility, the majority of City Council last night approved a developer’s request to amend a zoning ordinance allowing the project to proceed.

The proposal, which already received a favorable recommendation from the Haverhill Planning Board and Economic Development and Planning Director William Pillsbury Jr., allows Princeton Properties of Lowell to construct four residential apartment buildings on the 6.5-acre site at 887 Boston Road, located on Ward Hill between Route 125 and Boston Road.

Project Engineer Katie Enright outlined the plans for the residential portion of the development.

“We are proposing two 36-unit, four-story buildings; a third 36-unit building with a garage under to provide additional space under the building that would be protected; and then an additional five-story building along Boston Road and that building would have 45 units in it,” she said.

The proposal calls for those apartments to be evenly divided between one-bedroom and two-bedroom units, with the two-bedroom units renting for about $3,000 per month.

Additionally, the plan allows two commercial buildings. One would be retained by the DiBurro family and be accessible from Route 125. The other would house up to 10,000 square feet of retail space and 10,000 square feet for a restaurant. All buildings would only be accessible by entrances on Boston Road.

Although some residents expressed concern over the impact the development would have on traffic and schools, Council Vice President Colin F. LePage pointed out the proposal only addressed the zoning amendment and infrastructure impact issues would be discussed later in the process.

LePage questioned the wording of the proposal regarding the inclusion of the restaurant and retail building saying he wanted to make clear that it was optional and not a fait accompli.

“I don’t want to tie that they do have to do that or they don’t have to do that. I want to give them, as they work through the departments, the option to do that,” he said. At one point, he made a motion to eliminate the commercial aspect of the proposal, but withdrew it after hearing from other councilors, including Councilor William J. Macek.

“I think there could be some very legitimate needs and uses for small commercial establishments on that property. There’s a lot of people that are going to be living there. This is a convenience factor,” he explained.

The Council voted to allow the zoning amendment by a vote of 7-1 with Council President Melinda E. Barrett opposed and Councilor Michael S. McGonagle absent.

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