Neighbors win battle against 55-and-over development

·2 min read

Dec. 8—HAVERHILL — Rocks Village residents have won their battle, at least for now, against a proposal to build a 55-and-over housing development in that rural area of the city.

When it met Tuesday night, the City Council voted unanimously (9-0) to allow Attorney Michael Migliori to withdraw his application for a special permit "with prejudice."

City Solicitor William Cox said that by accepting the withdrawal with prejudice, Migliori has the right to return to the council in two years with the same request, or he can petition the council earlier if he comes forward with a substantially revised proposal, as determined by the council.

Neighbors say it's at least a temporary win.

"To get this process delayed for at least two years is a win for us," said abutter Joe Carey. "The council followed the process and made the right decision."

Councilor Joseph Bevilaqua, who motioned to accept Migliori's withdrawal said he would not have supported the proposed project without the approval of all city departments that had raised concerns.

"I was also concerned that many of the abutters concerns were not being addressed," he said.

Migliori, who represented Sixty Six Merrimac-HAV LLC, had informed the council last week that he was withdrawing his application for a special permit his client would have needed to build 66 units of 55-and-over detached residential condominium homes on 54 acres of the former Snowcrest Farm at 66 Merrimac Road.

Called Fox Hollow, the development was to be age-restricted.

The council had to vote on Migliori's request to withdraw the application when it met this Tuesday night.

Council President Melinda Barrett said the council considered the opposition of neighbors to the project as well as Economic and Development Director William Pillsbury's unfavorable recommendation for the project.

"The plan as presented was not favorable," she said, noting that the council never had an opportunity to delve deeply into the proposal as a public hearing on the matter was canceled after Migliori withdrew his application.

Neighbors have argued that while 35 acres would be preserved on the 54-acre property, developers were trying to "bury the property with homes," Carey said.

In addition to environmental concerns, neighbors also say traffic and safety were major sticking points in their desire to squash the project.

Where they live in Rocks Village, Carey said, the response time for fires or accidents can often be extensive.

"There may be a group interested in turning the land into something other than a housing project," Carey said. "There is also the potential for 32 single family homes, but neighbors are not going to embrace any housing development. It's just not in character with the city's plan or historic Rocks Village."

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