Legal Ruling Kills Broadway Residential Solar Farm Before Vote; Haverhill Adds Moratorium

A developer’s plans to build a small solar farm on the site of a Broadway residence was struck down by the city’s legal department before a scheduled Haverhill City Council vote Tuesday night. Councilors also imposed a six-month moratorium on such projects. Hexagon Energy of Charlottesville, Va., had proposed to build the array on just under two acres at 1037 Broadway, saying it would create enough electricity to power 40 homes. Development Manager Scott Remer told WHAV he isn’t ruling out legal action. City Solicitor William D. Cox Jr. ruled earlier Tuesday the project does not meet city requirements for ground-mounted solar generation.

Haverhill Council Approves Retail-to-Apartment Conversion; Symbolically Saves Storefront

A 50-year precedent, requiring retail spaces on the ground floors of downtown buildings, was left at least symbolically intact when Haverhill City Councilors voted to allow additional apartments at 1 Water St. Councilors Tuesday night allowed Arrowpoint Burlington, owner of the mostly residential building, to convert first-floor space into three additional apartments. In a compromise engineered by Councilor William J. Macek, a less than 1,000-square-foot space facing Water Street will remain a storefront. “It would stay in conformity with what we’re doing everyplace else in the downtown area,” Macek said. Councilors voted 6-2 in favor of the plan with members Joseph J. Bevilacqua and Melinda E. Barrett opposing the conversion that would bring the total number of apartments to 167 at the nine-story building.

Haverhill Police Seize Drugs Worth Thousands, Arrest Lawrence Man for Dealing

A Lawrence man is facing drug trafficking charges after Haverhill Police’s gang and narcotics units seized fentanyl, cocaine and cash during a suspected drug deal early Wednesday afternoon. The two police units were watching Westgate Shopping Plaza around 12;30 p.m. when a suspected drug transaction took place. According to a statement, police seized 178 grams of fentanyl, worth more than $7,000; 168 grams of cocaine with a street value of $6,750; and $2,658 in cash. Ruben Lara-Ramirez, 36, was charged with conspiracy to violate drug laws, fentanyl trafficking and cocaine trafficking. He was driving a Dodge Caravan with Massachusetts livery plates.

State Orders City to Provide WHAV More Information About Secret DPW Inquiry

The City of Haverhill has been ordered to better respond to WHAV’s request for details of a fall police investigation of the city’s Department of Public Works. State Supervisor of Records Rebecca S. Murray issued the ruling last week after the radio station appealed the amount of blacked out—or redacted—sections in an 83-page “Highway Department Investigation,” authored by Haverhill Police Chief Alan R. DeNaro. The city claims it is excused from releasing certain information about employees, but Murray suggested the city may have gone too far. “Despite the city’s response, it remains unclear which redacted portions the city is claiming constitute personnel information,” she said, later adding, “This clause does not protect all data relating to specifically named individuals.”

Mayor James J. Fiorentini ordered the investigation following receipt of two anonymous letters, alleging wrongdoing. DPW employees Steven Allen and Erik Frasca along with former city worker Kevin Moriarty were later arrested last August for drug possession.

Power Surge Closes Consentino School; Students Sent to Silver Hill, HHS

Students at Albert B. Consentino School were bused to other schools after what was believed to be a citywide power surge caused an outage at the middle school. Fire Chief William F. Laliberty said the surge caused the school to lose a phase of a three-phase power system. As a result, he added, some electrical relays appear to have failed. “There was no fire in the building,” the chief said. Haverhill School Superintendent Margaret Marotta said fourth and fifth graders were sent to Silver Hill School, while older students were sent to Haverhill High School while repairs are made.

After Chase, Police Arrest Woman Who Allegedly Tried to Run Down Haverhill Officer

A 53-year-old Chester, N.H., woman who allegedly tried to run down a Haverhill Police officer with her car yesterday afternoon, was ultimately arrested in Westford after a lengthy police pursuit. Shortly after 4 p.m., Haverhill Police Officer James Keenan went to Evergreen Drive for a report of a person possibly smoking crack. When he approached the car, a woman later identified as Cindy Case, drove toward him, “almost striking him,” Haverhill Police Capt. Robert P. Pistone told WHAV News. Evergreen Drive is in the Bradford section of the city. Case fled at above posted, but not high, speeds in her car, followed by Keenan, police said.

School Committee Advances Plan to Turn St. James into Middle School, Relocate Some Kindergartens

Haverhill’s school superintendent received a preliminary go-ahead last night to continue studying whether St. James School should be used for grades 4-6 and a related plan to relocate some kindergarten programs.
School Committee members, meeting at a “Budget Workshop” at UMass Lowell’s iHub, heard rationales for using St. James to reduce overcrowded classrooms at four other middle schools. Superintendent Margaret Marotta explained the idea is only a short-term solution. “One of the assumptions is that in the next three to four years, we will be rebuilding or adding on to Consentino School and having more room at the school,” she said.

Plan to Reduce Classroom Sizes Could Convert St. James to Middle Grades, Repurpose Small Schools

Editor’s Note: As noted below, Superintendent Margaret Marotta declined to provide details of a proposed reorganization. However, School Committee members insisted this morning that no school buildings will be “closed,” per se, but they may not house the same types of student classes they do today. Kindergarten classes, for example, may be relocated to other buildings. This updated version reflects that view. An attempt to reduce Haverhill classroom sizes could see St.