, Salem, MA

December 18, 2013

Developer plans 16 homes near pond


---- — BEVERLY — A developer has filed plans with the city to build 19 single-family homes next to Kelleher’s Pond, but he says he actually plans to build only 16.

Paul DiBiase of Lynnfield-based DiBiase Homes said he was required by city ordinance to turn in a plan showing the full build-out of the land. But he said his intention is to build 16 homes under the city’s Open Space Residential Design ordinance and to keep at least half of the 20-acre site as open space.

“Even though we could probably pursue 19, we’re not,” DiBiase said. “We’re going to pursue 16, like I promised the neighborhood.”

The residential subdivision, to be called Essex Crossing, would be built at 232 Essex St. in a wooded area behind the Next Generation Children’s Center and next to Kelleher’s Pond.

The plan is the second attempt to develop the site. Earlier this year, landowner Walker Realty dropped a proposal to build a $20 million apartment complex after encountering neighborhood opposition.

DiBiase said he and his team have met four times with the Montserrat Neighborhood Association to discuss his plans to build single-family homes. DiBiase said he has an agreement to buy the land from Walker Realty subject to getting city approval for the subdivision.

Katherine Mills Myers, a member of the neighborhood group, said neighbors will continue to attend city meetings involving plans for the property.

“I feel there is a very good working relationship between the neighbors and Paul DiBiase and that every effort is being made by Mr. DiBiase and his team to maintain a trusting relationship with us,” Mills Myers said.

The Conservation Commission is scheduled to visit the site on Jan. 4 and discuss the plans at its Jan. 7 meeting.

The commission must approve the building plans because of the subdivision’s proximity to Kelleher’s Pond and nearby wetlands. According to the plans on file at City Hall, road construction and the stormwater management system will disturb 11,802 square feet of the buffer zone associated with the pond and wetlands.

Paving will be kept at least 26 feet from the pond bank and more than 50 feet from the wetlands, according to the plans.

“Most of the development curves away from the pond, so the houses will be a safe distance from the pond,” DiBiase said.

DiBiase said the road into Next Generation Children’s Center would be extended to access the property. Ice House Lane, a short residential street on the other side of the children’s center, would be used only for emergency access, he said.

Although Kelleher’s Pond is part of the privately owned property, it has been used by the public for years with small boats or kayaks and ice-skating in winter.

DiBiase said there is a possibility the pond could be donated to the city.

“It’s a big recreational area for the Montserrat neighborhood,” he said. “It’s an amenity for the city and the neighborhood.”

The land was owned for years by the Kelleher family, which ran an ice business and then an oil and construction business on the site. The family moved its company to Tozer Road in 2008 and sold the land to Walker Realty of Westford. Next Generation Children’s Center was built on the front of the property in 2009.

DiBiase said the Essex Crossing homes would be clustered on lots of 8,000 to 9,000 feet. The homes would sell for about $650,000 to $700,000, he said.

DiBase said it could take a couple of years to build all of the homes, depending on how quickly they sell.

Staff writer Paul Leighton can be reached at 978-338-2675 or