Andover Townsman, Andover, MA

December 6, 2012

Approval of affordable housing looms

Meeting this weekend to address, sign off on project

By Dustin Luca
Staff Writer

---- — A 224-apartment community off of Lowell Street is slated for approval at a Zoning Board meeting this Saturday, more than a year after it first came before the board.

Andover Apartments at Rolling Green, which aims to build two four-story buildings at the corner of Lowell Street (Route 133) and Interstate 93 behind the existing Windsor Green apartments, first came before the Zoning Board on Oct. 6, 2011.

Since then, the project’s public hearing has been continued 15 times, most recently at a meeting Nov. 27.

The project will come before the Zoning Board one final time on Saturday at 11 a.m., on the second floor of Memorial Hall Library. It’s slated to be approved, but with a heavy list of conditions.

The conditioned approval, summarized in a 30-page decision, will be just the first barrier the project needs to pass through in order to break ground.

A permit from the Conservation Commission will be needed for a new intersection on Lowell Street, according to Mark Johnson, a lawyer representing the project’s developer. The intersection will replace the existing one where Windsor Green and the IRS facility in Andover feed into Route 133.

Additional permits will be needed from the state, Johnson said.

Because of the other permits, Johnson said he wasn’t sure when construction would begin or how long it would take to build the two buildings.

“Whatever state permits we need we’ll be working to obtain, and we will be filing a notice of intent for the construction of the entrance way with the Conservation Commission,” Johnson said. “We’re certainly happy to be working toward the conclusion of the public hearings.”

The project’s 224 apartments are broken down into 134 one-bedroom units, 70 two-bedroom units and 20 three-bedroom units. Fifty-six of the apartments will be “affordable units” restricted to household incomes that are at least 20 percent lower than the area median income.

The project will also have 182 parking spaces in garages underneath the two buildings and 195 outdoor parking spaces. It will be built on 20.1 acres of land.

The decision: Restrictions added, land gifted

Over the span of the project’s 16 public hearings, meetings have addressed a variety of concerns, including traffic impacts, water and sewer needs, how the project would affect area schools and more.

The project includes a three-acre, $110,000 storm water management system that will improve water quality for area residents. Nearly 27 acres of open land along Fish Brook will also be given to the town as part of the project’s approval.

“It’s being given to the town for no consideration,” Johnson said. “It’s something we offered to do as part of the approval process.”

Construction will be limited to weekdays only, from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. Construction on Saturdays can be approved by the town’s building inspector.

With one of the two buildings being built alongside Interstate 93, all apartments with windows facing the highway will need to feature sound-proof windows.

Developers will also need to give the town $150,000 to fund “corridor planning and improvements on Lowell Street.”

When the project was first presented last October, it appeared alongside a competing 288-unit, four-building development on Shattuck Road. That project was rejected by the Zoning Board in September in a decision that has since been appealed.