BEVERLY — A developer wants to build 160 apartments on wooded land next to Kelleher's Pond under a state program that encourages "smart growth" close to public transportation.
As an incentive, the state would pay the city $677,000, according to the developer, Omni Properties of Concord.
Mayor Bill Scanlon said city officials have been in discussions with Omni for more than a year.
"I think it deserves full consideration," he said.
The apartment complex, to be called Village Green Beverly, would cost more than $20 million to build, said David Hale, a partner with Omni Properties. It would include three apartment buildings and a clubhouse with an outdoor pool to be built adjacent to Kelleher's Pond and behind the Next Generation Children's Center on Essex Street. The location is also near the YMCA and Hannah School.
The apartments would be within walking distance of the Montserrat train station, which allows the city to establish the area as a smart growth district under state law Chapter 40R.
The law offers financial incentives to encourage cities and towns to create "overlay" zoning districts to promote affordable housing near transit stations or town centers. The designation allows higher density developments than are allowed under local zoning laws.
Hale said the company must build at least 160 units to qualify for the state program. The development would take up about 71/2 acres of the 18-acre site, he said. He said the area around Kelleher's Pond would be protected by a conservation restriction, and the pond would remain open to the public.
"A lot of people skate on the pond and fish in the pond, and we certainly want that to be able to continue," Hale said.
Colon Street resident Katherine Myers, whose home faces Kelleher's Pond, said she was "horrified" when she first saw the size of the project. Many residents expressed their opposition at a neighborhood meeting last week, she said.