State Environmental Officials Visit Planned Oxford Crossing Site in Ward Hill, Forge Compromise

Oxford Crossing developer’s supplied aerial photograph of existing property.

State environmental concerns over “Oxford Crossing,” a mixed use residential and commercial “village” in Ward Hill, may have been resolved during a state visit Thursday morning.

The Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection last week took over jurisdiction of the project after appealing a recent Haverhill Conservation Commission wetlands decision. As WHAV previously reported, conservation commissioners signed off on updated plans submitted on behalf of Tuscan Village developer Joseph Faro and his sister Deanna Gaiero, owner of Joseph’s Trattoria restaurant. The revised plan, prepared by TEC engineer Christopher Raymond, “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.” However, the DEP’s northeast regional office raised concern and requested Thursday’s site walk.

“…The wetland resource areas alterations on the project site have not been accurately quantified and mitigated for bank and bordering vegetated wetlands and therefore, the project does not comply with the performance standards under (state regulations),” state officials wrote last week.

DEP Environmental Analyst Pamela Merrill met with the developer and Haverhill conservation commissioners to work out the differences. Merrill previously 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….”

“Representatives for all parties met at the site. Solutions to DEP concerns were agreed upon. In the next few weeks, it is likely that DEP will withdraw its appeal and the Conservation Commission will issue an amended order of conditions allowing the project,” said Conservation Commission Vice Chairman and Community Liaison Ralph T. Basiliere.

Should the plan move forward, it will be comprised of a six-story building with 230 apartments, new restaurant, bakery and gourmet market and boutique retail spaces, near the border of Haverhill and North Andover off Route 125.

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