, Newburyport, MA

November 8, 2013

10 years later, a decision arrives

Planning Board signs off on Bailey's Pond project

By Mac Cerullo
Staff Writer

---- — AMESBURY — In a decision 10 years in the making, the Planning Board voted unanimously on Monday night to approve the Bailey’s Pond residential development project.

“It’s a huge relief,” said Planning Board member Karen Solstad. “It’s a big, huge project and I think it’s a project that will have a huge impact on the town moving forward.”

The Bailey’s Pond plan calls for the construction of a multi-family residential development around a city-owned piece of land between Interstate 495, Route 150 and the Merrimack River. Fafard Real Estate has held a purchase-and-sale agreement for the 24.5-acre property since 2003, but the plan was repeatedly caught up in delays over the past decade.

When completed, the development will include two major residential pods. The small development will consist of nine buildings for a total of 36 units between Bailey’s Pond and Summit Avenue, and the larger development will consist of 20 buildings for a total of 100 units to the southeast of the pond, north of Route 150 and east of Summit Avenue.

Access to the small pod will be from Summit Avenue about 900 feet north of the intersection with Route 150, and access to the large pod will be on Route 150 about 600 feet east of the Summit Avenue intersection. There will also be an emergency access from Beacon Street.

The Route 150 access will require a curb-cut permit from the Mass. Department of Transportation, and additional work may need to be done on the surrounding roads as well. Services for the development, including trash, recycling and snow removal, will be handled by private service providers, not the city.

The Planning Board noted many issues with the proposed plan, including a flawed parking layout, buildings that don’t fit the character of the neighborhood and minimal on-site recreational amenities. As a result, the board’s approval was contingent on dozens of conditions listed in a 32-page document.

Among the larger conditions, the project must be compliant with all local, state and federal requirements and the developer must obtain all necessary permits, with the applications for an Earth-fill special permit and MassDOT curb-cut permit to be submitted within 90 days of approval.

No more than 34 buildings on the two development pods will be allowed on the site, with the northern pod consisting of no more than nine structures and the southern pod, no more than 25. Any changes to their location, size or design will require further review and approval by the board.

All infrastructure improvements to the property should be completed within three years.

A final parking layout must be submitted showing that cars can be driven in or out of a space without requiring any other parked vehicle to move. Currently, the plan calls for a number of two-car garages with additional spaces in front of the garage doors. Cars parked in these spots could conceivably keep cars from getting in or out of the garage.

All sidewalks and pedestrian walkways must be handicapped accessible, and a certain number of affordable units must be made available.

No applications for building permits for individual buildings can be made until all utilities, sewer pump stations and associated environmental mitigation, roadway infrastructure and stormwater management systems have been completed.

A project-phasing plan should be submitted to identify when the individual buildings will be constructed. The board will allow applications for building permits in four batches of no less than eight buildings at a time, with such structures being adjacent to each other on the site. At least 90 percent of the buildings in one batch must be under construction before the next batch can be released for construction.

Finally, the dwelling units and structures must meet a lengthy list of criteria outlined in the approval.

Solstad said that with the issuance of their approval, the project is now out of their hands. She added that if the developer doesn’t want to work with the conditions imposed as part of the approval, they could appeal, but for their part, the Planning Board is satisfied with the resolution they were able to reach.

“It’s the biggest project in many years,” Solstad said. “So with the constraints we had under zoning, we wanted to try to get the best project we could for the town, and I think we’ve managed to do that.”