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Tewksbury Voters Pass Zoning Change, Housing Project Clears Hurdle

Oct 10, 2014 03:46PM ● By Bill Gilman
Despite concerns raised by several neighbors, Tewksbury voters at the Oct. 7 Special Town Meeting approved a zoning change that removes a major obstacle from construction of a a residential development.
Local developer Arnie Martel is planning to build several multi-unit homes on four parcels of land, labeled as 715, 721, 731 and 737 Livingston Street, just north of East Street. The land is part of a section of town that is zoned for commercial use, although several homes have been built in the area.
Voters approved a request by Martel that his parcels be included in the town's Community Village Overlay District, which would allow for mixed use of the property.
It was the term "mixed use" that several residents objected to. Some said they felt the article was a means by which Martel could sneak in a light industrial project.
"Why, when the parcels are abutting residential and abutting farms, why didn't the Planning Board recommend it be residential and not multi-use?" asked Barbara Flanagan. "I don't think we should be moving away from residential usage. I think the board was remiss in recommending multi-use."
Selectman Scott Wilson, who was involved in discussions with Martel and his team after voters had rejected a bid to rezone that land to Industrial Use at the Annual Town Meeting in May, said town officials determined this was the best possible course of action.
"We feel this is an effective use of the property," said Wilson. "And we feel as though its something that is beneficial to the community."
Martel has not yet presented the Planning Board with a definitive plan for the property. The units built could be rentals, condominiums or a combinations of the two.
Attorney Rick O'Neill, representing Martel, said one thing was certain.
"We intend to build out a multi-family (project), period ... period," said O'Neill.

In other business, voters overwhelmingly approved 13 spending articles, paid for almost exclusively with $4.6 million in certified free cash. According to Town Manager Richard Montuori, the free cash came as a result of revenue that came in $2.5 million over projects and roughly $1.4 million turned back from budget line items because it was unused.
Spending items included:
  • $300,000 in special education related expenses for the School Department
  • $1.768 million into the Stabilization Fund
  • $600,000 for future snow and ice removal
  • $350,000 for the post-employment trust fund
  • $397,590 for DPW capital expenses
  • $110,420 for Police Department capital expenses


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