TEWKSBURY – After a site visit on Saturday, December 11, 2021, the Andover Zoning Board of Appeals met on Thursday, January 6, 2022 to continue the public hearing and make a decision on a special permit for an unauthorized yard at 1 p.m.: 11 p.m. to meet Südstr.
The property, owned by Matthew Strong of Andover, is in Andover but is only accessible from Tewksbury’s South Street. The matter was for Strong to clear the property and set up a contractors’ shipyard on the property, which is classified as an Industrial Area A under Andover’s zoning code.
Strong owns another yard in Andover on an industrial G lot and claimed through his attorney that he thought that lot was the same.
Members of the Andover Zoning Board of Appeals first learned of this when Strong applied for a special permit when Andover Building Commissioner Chris Clemente found that the owner had laid out the yard without a permit and issued a cease and desist order.
Strong appeared before the ZBA with an attorney on December 2, 2021, arguing that the area was industrial by nature. Strong admitted the mistake but tried to move forward with a conditional special permit.
Residents of Tewksbury in South Street and adjacent Fieldstone Circle raised strong objections, citing noise, lack of notice, stormwater problems and the fact that there was no buffer left when Strong cleared the property.
At the January 6, 2022 hearing, Strong’s attorney appealed to the board to grant the special permit, suggesting that the property was an improvement over the illegal ATV use that had been alleged at the site, adding that 130 arborvitae had been planted as a buffer and that his shop was not making noise or storing hazardous materials.
The attorney also claimed that residents in the area were already familiar with the industrial conditions, citing companies half a mile away.
Tom Lambert of Tewksbury, a 56-year-old South Street resident, told the board that he felt the applicant mischaracterized the area; He urged the board to adhere to Andover’s own zoning code, stating that the current review is inadequate.
Lambert highlighted other issues, including the lack of stormwater management, visitors to the site parking in AVIS Conservation Area parking lots, and residents who are required to patrol the area themselves and are now active with contractor trucks.
Bernie Hulme, a leader at Fieldstone Circle, said the car lights “flash through my windows” 24/7 from the property. Previously, local residents had provided pictures and videos of activities on the site to the board.
After the conclusion of the public hearing, members of the Andover ZBA discussed the issue and expressed concern that Strong had undertaken all site work without a permit and that if he had come before the board with a site plan, landscaping plan, etc., they would have them in Considered his proposal within the guidelines of IA designation.
Use of a contractor’s yard in the IA Zone requires special permission, something Strong only requested after receiving a cease-and-desist order from Andover’s building superintendent.
ZBA member Ellen Keller researched other IA properties in Andover and explained that like this lot, they are all surrounded by apartment buildings.
“The authors of this article probably understood that certain shelters were required to protect the other dwellings. This should let us know,” Keller said.
She spoke of large cinder blocks being used to demarcate each contractor’s area on the property: “Those cinder blocks are not going to withstand the kickback in any way,” she said.
Member Dan Lopez was very concerned about the “acres of trees” that had been cut down; Keller added, “This is a tragedy — this is a 50-year problem.”
The general consensus of the board was that Strong failed to follow the rules and obtain the necessary permits for the property, which would have included submission of a stormwater management plan, setbacks, buffer zones, etc. The Board felt that the current shipyard plan had too much impact on the country and would not have met their regulations.
Chief Executive Officer Elizabeth Oltman said: “I don’t think this plan shows what they intend to do going forward, which is scary.”
The board voted unanimously to deny the special permit for the contractor’s shipyard and to uphold the commissioner’s injunction to operate. The property owner has the opportunity to submit a significantly different plan for the property in the future.