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Re-Zoning Vote At Town Meeting Could Be Last Chance To Save The Hardy-Pike House

May 02, 2016 11:54AM ● By Bill Gilman

Are Tewksbury voters willing to make a deal with a developer to save an historic building?

That's a question to be answered this week, as residents gather for the Annual Town Meeting (Monday 8 p.m. and Wednesday, 8 p.m. at Tewksbury High School).

The only thing for certain is that this time next year, the 286-year-old Hardy-Pike House will no longer be standing at 464 Main St. It will either have been re-located or it will be razed by Group 1 Automotive, the Houston-based parent company of Ira Toyota. One way or another the dealership plans to use the land the house sits on to expand its car lot.

Developer Jim Andella has offered to move the Hardy-Pike House to a lot he owns at 155 East St. Moreover, he has said he will shoulder the full cost of the move, estimated to be around $600,000.

He wants just one thing in return. 

Andella has placed Article 31 on the Town Meeting Warrant, asking for the property at 155 East St. to be re-zoned from single-family residential to inclusion in the Village Mixed-Use Overlay District, which would allow for construction of multi-family residential buildings. Specifically, Andella is proposing building 15 townhouses on a three-acre parcel.

If approved, the Hardy-Pike House would go on the piece of the "pork chop lot" that fronts East Street, while the townhouses would be built in the back section.

If 155 East St. sounds familiar, it should. Andella has asked that this piece of property be re-zoned and included in the overlay district in the past, only to have his request shot down by voters at Town Meeting. He's hoping that his offer to save the Hardy-Pike House and pay for its move will be viewed as a fair trade.

Andella has gained the support of the Historical Society, the Historical Commission and, by a 3-2 vote, the Planning Board. Last week, Andella pitched his plan to the Board of Selectmen, which voted unanimously to defer to the judgement of the Planning Board.

"If Jim Andella is able to move this house to 155 East Street, it will be the first house moved and saved from demolition in recent Tewksbury history," wrote Tewksbury Historical Society interim President David Marcus, in a Letter To the Editor. "The Society does not want to see this icon demolished but the decision is up to the people of Tewksbury, not the Society and not Jim Andella. We recommend you go to the Town Meeting on May 2 and support the preservation of this building by moving it from 464 Main Street."

If his article is approved, Andella said he intends to start the moving process in July and said the actual move could be done in just one day. Once its relocated, Andella told the Board of Selectmen the plan would be to use the house commercially, possibly for professional offices.

The Hardy-Pike House has a storied history. According to Marcus, it was lived in by William and Nehemiah Hardy, who fought in the Revolutionary War. It has been a stagecoach stop, a restaurant (several times) and a bookstore/coffee shop. Most recently, it served as the Temporary Town Hall for more than a year, while Town Hall was being renovated.

According to the Annual Town Meeting Warrant (attached), Zoning Bylaw Articles will be addressed at the Wednesday night portion of the meeting.

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