Haverhill Councilors Agree to 37-Acre Land Purchase, Downtown Lot Sale Changes

Haverhill City Councilor Thomas J. Sullivan. (WHAV News file photograph by Jay Saulnier.)

The Haverhill City Council gave unanimous approval on Tuesday to having the city take possession of approximately 37 acres of land adjacent to Brandy Brow Road for the purpose of protecting the city’s water supply.

The property abuts the East Meadow River which feeds the Millvale Reservoir, the source of more than half a Haverhill’s drinking water.

The transfer of the property, consisting of 14 separate parcels, is being done via a method known as a friendly Order of Taking. City Solicitor William D. Cox Jr. explained to councilors why, since the land owners are in favor of the plan, that method of ownership transfer was necessary.

“We have to do it this way, to some degree, because Mass. General Law and the city’s charter prohibit us from purchasing property at a price that exceeds 125% of the value for the last three years,” he said.

Cox also explained the purchase price of the property, just over $780,000, was derived by taking the appraised value of the land, $2.53 million, and deducting the estimated site development costs of just under $1.75 million. The Council approved borrowing the money for the land purchase at last week’s meeting.

Haverhill Public Works Director Robert E. Ward told councilors it is an important purchase for the city, not only to protect its water supply, but also to provide public recreation opportunities to the citizens of the city.

In a separate action, councilors agreed to a request by the solicitor to allow Mayor James J. Fiorentini to seek the removal of two parcels of land downtown from Massachusetts Land Court.

The properties in question are 4.5 acres downtown, including the Herbert H. Goecke Jr. Memorial Parking Deck, which the Lupoli Company plans to purchase and develop. Cox said the change would mean the property would be designated simply as ordinary recorded lots, He explained why that change would be beneficial.

“The only reason we’re changing where they are recorded is because the owners would like to have one parcel of land that is all recorded in the same place and everything can refer back to this one particular lot,” he said.

Councilor Thomas J. Sullivan, himself a real estate attorney, endorsed the request, noting it simply makes sense for the developer.

The Council agreed voting 7-0 to approve the request, with Councilors Joseph J. Bevilacqua and Michael S. McGonagle abstaining from the vote.

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