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9.2.07 Danvers Senior Town Planner Departing

The Danvers Herald reported that after 5½ years as the Senior Town Planner, Evan Belansky will be leaving Danvers Sept. 7 to become the community development director in Chelmsford.

Belansky’s new job will entail additional managing and supervising responsibilities, including staffing the planning board, zoning board and conservation.

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9.2.07 Beverly Land Use Law to be Revisited

The Beverly Citizen recently reported that a relatively new, untraditional land use law, known as the Open Space and Residential Design Ordinance, may be undergoing some changes.

This law, unanimously approved by the City Council in December 2005 was meant to change the look of neighborhoods by requiring new neighborhoods to set aside half the land as open space, as well as requiring development to be worked around slopes, wildlife habitat, scenic vistas and other natural features.

Zoning Board of Appeals Chairman Scott Houseman and Planning Board Vice Chairman John Thomson spent eighteen months writing the ordinance. The City Council debated it for a year before it was passed.
However, by January 2007, City Council President Paul Guanci said changes to the ordinance were one of his priorities; this coming after a review by Ken Buckland of The Cecil Group in Boston which found on many new lots the ordinance left little or no no developable land.

One of the changes would reduce the 100-foot buffer required around each property to 25-feet around the edge, including wetlands and riverfront areas. This would be on top of the wetlands buffer that are already in place according to Assistant Planning Director Leah Zambernardi.

These proposed changes are being reviewed by the Planning Board, which will discuss them when it meets next on Sept. 19, 2007. After that, a public hearing likely may be scheduled in late October or early November, according to Zambernardi.

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8.31.07 Foreclosure Relief from HUD

The United States Department of Housing and Urban Development reported on August 31, 2007 that President George H. Bush plans to use HUD's Federal Housing Administration (FHA) to help an estimated 240,000 families avoid foreclosure by enhancing its refinancing program effective immediately. Under the new FHASecure plan, FHA will allow families with strong credit histories who had been making timely mortgage payments before their loans reset − but are now in default − to qualify for refinancing. In addition, FHA will implement risk-based premiums that match the borrower's credit profile with the insurance premium they pay; i.e., riskier borrowers pay more. According to HUD, “this common-sense, risk-based pricing structure will begin on January 1, 2008.” To qualify for FHASecure, eligible homeowners must meet the following five criteria:

  1. A history of on-time mortgage payments before the borrower's teaser rates expired and loans reset;
  2. Interest rates must have or will reset between June 2005 and December 2008;
  3. Three percent cash or equity in the home;
  4. A sustained history of employment; and
  5. Sufficient income to make the mortgage payment.
For more information about FHASecure and other FHA products, please call 1-800-CALL-FHA or visit or For a list of your local homeownership center or a HUD-approved housing counseling center, go to

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8.31.07 Developer to Appeal Beverly Subdivision Decision

According the Beverly Citizen, a developer who had sought permission to build a four-lot subdivision at 30 Foster Street in Beverly has appealed the decision by suing the Planning Board in Superior Court.

The Planning board purported denied the project following a site visit when they determined that there was an issue with the site plans. The board also denied the project because they felt it would add four to five times the amount of existing traffic at the intersection of Foster Street and the proposed new road.

The developer, Robert Hubbard, is arguing that the board’s denial was done improperly, that his plan conforms to the requirements of City zoning laws, and that there no was no evidence ever submitted to the Planning board to prove that the amount of traffic would increase that amount.

As of August 16, 2007, no hearing had been scheduled, but the Superior Court clerk is set to check on the case on November 19, 2007.

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8.31.07 Haverhill to Begin Largest Development Project in History

The Eagle-Tribune has reported that financing for the Forest City apartments, have been approved.

Forest City Enterprises, based in Ohio, recently finalized funding to build a new $70 million, 306-unit apartment complex in Downtown Haverhill.

Construction could start as soon as October 2007, Mayor James Fiorentini said.

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8.31.07 Beverly Waterfront Plans

According to the Beverly Citizen, the City of Beverly may soon begin plans to re-write land-use laws to allow new types of development along two downtown waterfronts, Water Street and the Bass River waterfront along River Street and McPherson Drive.

The City is hoping to bring in millions of dollars in new tax revenues. A Special Committee which met in May 2007 is looking to interview prospective consultants and choose a Master Plan perhaps by end of September.

This is more than a year after City Counsilers decided to spend $75,000 on waterfront development planning.

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