, Salem, MA

Local News

September 21, 2012

Group appeals Beverly housing plan

BEVERLY — A neighborhood group is challenging the Beverly Housing Authority’s plan to build two affordable homes next to the Montserrat train station.

In an appeal filed Sept. 13 with the Zoning Board of Appeals, the Montserrat Neighborhood Group said the lot, which already has one house, is not legally big enough to fit two more.

The group has sent out a press release accusing the housing authority of “deceptive methods” and “manipulation” of the zoning laws and calling the plan “an affront to the community and to the families and children who would live in this ill-conceived project.”

The zoning board is scheduled to hear the appeal at its Oct. 23 meeting. Beverly Housing Authority Executive Director Kevin Ascolillo said he could not comment while the matter is pending before the board.

The housing authority plans to build two two-story homes on a triangular shape of land at the corner of Essex and Spring streets, next to the Montserrat train station parking lot.

The authority bought the land for $10 in 2002 from the MBTA, which said it no longer needed it and did not want to be responsible for its maintenance. The authority currently manages a single-family affordable home on the property.

In August 2012, the city granted the housing authority a building permit to construct a pair of two-family homes on the lot. Officials say the homes will provide housing for three families and for a disabled military veteran.

Housing authority officials say the lot is 20,166 square feet, enough to meet the minimum zoning requirement of 20,000 square feet for a project of this size. But neighbors say the lot meets that requirement only by including part of the adjacent train station parking lot.

About 4,500 square feet of the lot is owned by the housing authority, according to neighbors, but it is separated from the housing lot by a fence and is used by the MBTA for parking.

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