The state has sided with a developer of an affordable housing project off River Street, over the objections of its neighbors and town officials.
Taylor Cove, a plan to build 32 affordable housing units off River Street between Hillcrest Road and Laconia Drive, got a green light last week from the state's Department of Environmental Protection after the Conservation Commission tried to stop the project more than two years ago.
In its decision, the DEP said "with the proper mitigation measures, the proposed project should be allowed" because it doesn't impact nearby wetland areas enough to warrant a rejection.
Of an estimated 184,000 square feet of riverfront area, the project intends to disturb around 6,900 square feet, or around 3.75 percent, of the area. Among a list of conditions, the DEP will require Wacome to provide an updated plan for replicating an area of around 600 square feet of bordering vegetated wetlands impacted by the project.
Conservation Director Bob Douglas, whose department focused heavily on the project's impact to nearby Shawsheen River, said that the decision is "very disappointing. They reached a different conclusion than the two scientists we were working with as to the limits of the river way."
Don Borenstein, developer Todd Wacome's attorney, said he and Wacome "are still reviewing the details of the decision," but that "we're glad to see the DEP generally agrees with the project team."
"Instead of requiring any changes to the project, they've agreed to the project as submitted, that it properly protects wetlands," said Borenstein.
A few smaller, final permits are necessary for construction of the units to begin, Borenstein said. The DEP decision "would certainly be clearing a significant hurdle."
About a decade ago, Wacome had planned to develop the land to create "Victoria Place," a neighborhood of five single-family homes. An order of conditions was approved by the Andover Conservation Commission to allow a roadway, utilities and stormwater management system. That project was never built.