‘Oxford Crossing’ Apartments and Retail Developer Revises Wetlands Plan for Ward Hill Site

Rendering of proposed Oxford Village provided to neighbors.

Haverhill Conservation Commissioners recently signed off on an updated plan by the developer of 230 apartments and retail space for Ward Hill.

The revised plan seeks to address wetlands concerns raised in January by the state Department of Environmental Protection at “Oxford Crossing,” a “village” being developed by Tuscan Village developer Joseph Faro and his sister Deanna Gaiero, owner of Joseph’s Trattoria restaurant.

“The applicant submitted a greatly improved plan that received unanimous approval. It’s off to DEP,” said Commission Vice Chair and Community Liaison Ralph T. Basiliere.

State environmental officials had zeroed in on the planned construction of a second entrance and portions of a parking lot at the development, comprised of apartments, a new restaurant, bakery and gourmet market and boutique retail spaces, replacing the existing restaurant and factory building near the border of Haverhill and North Andover off Route 125. The Haverhill City Council approved the project last fall.

Christopher Raymond, an engineer with Hampton, N.H.-based TEC, said the updated plan “now proposes an open bottom culvert crossing for the principal site driveway that will meet the stream crossing standards, providing a safe intersection while avoiding permanent bank impacts.”

DEP’s Pamela Merrill had asked the developer to consider such alternatives as “relocating the entrance out of the (bordering vegetated wetlands) and bank, designing a stream crossing entrance and relocating the retaining wall further away….”

Raymond said permanent bank impacts have been reduced from 330 feet to zero. He added, “Through the redesign of the site, the project now proposes to pull back the extents of the paved areas onsite to provide a 15-foot vegetated buffer between the developed area and the edge of (the wetlands).” Part of a proposed retaining wall was removed from the plan and “all stormwater is now routed through deep-sump hooded catch basins, water quality units and subsurface infiltration basins to greatly improve the treatment of runoff and promote groundwater recharge.”

The Haverhill Conservation Commission considered Oxford Crossing’s revised plan and issued an order of conditions. The plan remains subject to possible further comment from the state Department of Environmental Protection.

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