City Council to Complete Steps Tonight to Protect Haverhill Agricultural Land from Development

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

Click image for Haverhill City Council agenda.

Haverhill city councilors are expected Tuesday night to approve Haverhill’s right of first refusal to buy 22.5 acres of protected agricultural land in a partnership with the nonprofit Essex County Greenbelt Association.

The planned public hearing caps debate over buying the land at 97 Corliss Hill Road that began last March when Mayor James J. Fiorentini at first turned down the chance to buy the property for $400,000. During May and June, however, a plan emerged that called for Greenbelt to put up $250,000 for the property while Haverhill pays $150,000. Last June, Deputy Public Works Director Robert E. Ward explained how the land will be split.

“Essex Greenbelt will end up owning the property that’s kind of a meadow area, farm fields, hay fields. The city will end up owning the wooded area on the backside. It’s actually the best area for us to own for watershed protection,” he said.

Development rights had previously been restricted in exchange for preferential taxes under state law. Last year, the land was offered for sale to a private developer by owners Daniel S. and Mark A. Byra. Under state law, however, the city has the right to purchase the property if the owners intend to sell for residential, commercial or industrial development.

The Haverhill City Council meets Tuesday at 7 p.m., online and in-person in the Theodore A. Pelosi Jr. Council Chambers, room 202, Haverhill City Hall, 4 Summer St. As a public service, 97.9 WHAV plans to broadcast the meeting live.

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