The Haverhill City Council approved Tuesday night what was described as an “unfriendly” order of taking for a vacant 11.2-acre parcel of land on Brandy Brow Road for the purpose of protecting the city’s water supply.
City Solicitor William D. Cox Jr. told councilors the property was one the city and the Essex County Greenbelt Association had been interested in for some time. Before any purchasing agreement was reached, however, the land went to public auction last March where it was purchased for $236,500 by its current owners, James E. Young Jr. and Victoria Angers. Cox went on to explain how the order of taking works.
“If you approve this order of taking tonight, we would send notice to the property owners. We do the taking, then we send the notice that we have taken the property, provide them with information on how they can receive the compensation or they have the other option to contest the value of the property,” he said.
An outside appraiser valued the property at $240,000.
Property owner Young, however, disputed the claim the property is critical to protecting the city’s water supply, and said he is not interested in selling. “Next store to Brandy Brow Road, there is an active junk yard. There is probably, at least, 400 to 500 cars, half taken apart with oil running into, actually, that said river. You couldn’t possibly do any more harm to that river than having that junkyard there. I’m not selling for 240,” he said.
The city recently undertook a “friendly” taking of another parcel in the same area—meaning the terms and price were negotiated with the owner before taking the property.
Haverhill Interim Public Works Director Robert E. Ward said the property is vital to protecting the city’s drinking water.
“So, the reason it’s important is there is actually a stream that flows through the southerly portion of the property. That stream flows into the East Meadow River which feeds into the Millvale Reservoir where we get the majority of the city’s public drinking water,” he explained.
The Council voted to move ahead with the order of taking by a 7-0 vote with Councilors Melissa J. Lewandowski and Michael S. McGonagle absent.