Haverhill City Council to Have Final Say Over Developers’ Major Site Plan Changes

Haverhill City Councilor Melinda E. Barrett. (WHAV News file photograph.)

The Haverhill City Council gave its okay to a proposal by City Solicitor William D. Cox Jr. on Tuesday, limiting what modifications are allowed to previously approved development projects without the Council’s consent.

Councilors asked for clarification as to the kinds of changes to an approved project that could be considered minor, and handled by the city’s Economic Development and Planning Department, and which changes were major modifications necessitating a revised site plan and possibly an additional public hearing.

Councilor Melinda E. Barrett, who suggested a clarification was necessary earlier this year, explained how it came about.

“When I brought this forward, it was at the request of building inspectors because they had a lot of things coming at them that seemed to be major modifications. So, they just wanted a process when they thought it was over their grade,” she said.

The new plan helps make clear to a developer, at the time of the original special permit application, what modifications to the approved site plan may require a further public hearing.

Councilor Joseph J. Bevilacqua is a member of the committee that helped craft the new plan. He said the process included input from a number of departments and the public as well.

“We had three meetings on this particular question. It was open to the public. We had input from other councilors as well, and this is an attempt to try and straighten out that issue so that it is less confusing,” he said.

Under the plan, major modifications include revisions to the size and location of buildings, structural additions, changes to parking and other changes that deviate from original site plans. Minor modifications would be changes to a building’s features that do not impact abutters.

The proposal passed by a vote of 7-0 with Council President Timothy J. Jordan and Councilor Melissa Lewandowski absent.

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