Andover Townsman, Andover, MA

October 14, 2011

WEB UPDATE: State DEP sides with town on Bancroft project

By Dustin Luca
STAFF WRITER

The state Department of Environmental Protection has given its approval to parts of the new Bancroft Elementary School construction plan that have been questioned by abutters.

MassDEP has affirmed an order of conditions from the Andover Conservation Commission that is necessary to build a new Bancroft School.

Mark Johnson, Andover School Building Committee chairman, said the new elementary school project is now one step away from moving forward as planned. The project was suspended indefinitely following news that some abutters to the property appealed the Conservation Commission's order and filed a suit against the project in Superior Court. DEP visited the site on Sept. 22.

"DEP affirmed the decision of the Conservation Commission, and we're certainly very happy," Johnson said. "There are two issues that have to be resolved. One was the DEP issue, and one was the court issue."

A hearing is expected in Superior Court on whether the Conservation Commission violated its bylaws in issuing an order of conditions necessary to build an access road off West Knoll Road to the back of the school's site.

The new Bancroft Elementary School is a $44 million project approved by voters at December 2010 Special Town Meeting and through a debt exclusion special election in January 2011.

Attorneys Peter Flynn and Jason Scopa, who are co-councilors representing two of the appealers, said they are expecting to appeal the DEP's decision, which would result in an additional adjudicatory hearing process that Scopa said could take several months to play out.

For more on this story, see the Oct. 20 print edition of the Andover Townsman.