“They’re looking for more of an option to live, but to live independently,” she said. “There really isn’t a good option in the town of Andover like there is in other communities.”
The zoning is tailored to take the Franciscan Center land and overlay a new zoning option. The present development opportunities would stand, but because it would be easier and faster to develop the land as elderly housing, Materazzo said that would become the preferred option for anyone looking to invest in the property down the road.
And since town officials have developed the zoning, it puts Andover in the driver’s seat in determining what that development should look like, Materazzo said.
With that, officials had two particular interests they wanted to protect on the site, according to Materazzo: keeping the existing seminary buildings intact, and leaving open space along the back of the property abutting the Merrimack River undeveloped.
Development on the site is limited to 200 residential units and 200 assisted living, congregate living and skilled nursing beds. It also must keep a minimum of 30 percent of the land untouched by construction, in order to preserve open space.
However, if developers keep the seminary buildings on the site and add another 20 percent of community space to what already exists for open space, they’re able to increase the number of units by 15 percent for each item, Materazzo said.
With those development perks, “you preserve the greatest asset, which is the character of the land itself,” Kendrick said.
If residents support the zoning measure at Town Meeting, the Planning Board would be the deciding authority on any senior residential permits sought, according to Materazzo.
Town Meeting begins on Monday, May 6, at 7 p.m. at the Andover High School field house, 80 Shawsheen Road.
The event is slated for three nights and is expected to run the full duration.