State Says Plan for Redeveloping Arthur Sharp Property in Haverhill Doesn’t Meet Environmental Rules

Rendering of proposed six-story, 18-unit building at 15 Middlesex St., Bradford.

Plans to build an 18-unit apartment building on the site of the former Arthur Sharp Hardware store in Bradford face delays with the state expressing Merrimack River-related concerns.

The state Department of Environmental Protection last week acknowledged receipt of plans for the proposed Middlesex Street building, but said they do not meet environmental requirements.

“Project is not permittable as designed,” the department wrote in an unsigned memorandum dated last Tuesday. The letter explains the project’s “underground chamber system does not have an unrestricted hydraulic connection to the Merrimack River. The wall openings, grates and, friction and confined nature of the system restricts the hydraulic connection to the river.” The judgement generally refers to the ability of water to move freely through a site.

Environmental officials also raised a concern about an on-site storage area for periodic flood waters that should be separate from stormwater. That preliminary finding relates to the potential of flooding on adjacent properties. It mentions consideration of such alternatives as “elevating the building.”

Haverhill city councilors voted 6-2 last spring to grant waivers on developer Alan Sfeir’s proposed number of units, building height and parking spaces. Council President Melinda E. Barrett and Councilor Joseph J. Bevilacqua opposed the project and Councilor Colin F. LePage was absent.

The state recently appealed the Haverhill Conservation Commission’s approval of conditions for Procopio Companies’ planned 290-unit housing, park, restaurant and retail complex for similar reasons. The “Beck,” to be built on the former Ornsteen Heel property now faces DEP’s own review.

In both cases, developers have opportunities to submit revised plans for consideration.

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