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12.10.07 Middleton Officials Deciding on Developing Land

According to the Tri-Town Transcript, Middleton Selectman are looking into to developing recently acquired land near the intersection of East Street and Peabody Street, which used to be home to the Rubchinuk landfill. The land is currently being used as a soccer field. Once environmental permitting is complete, Middleton will receive a sum of money from the state for management of the site, part of which may be used to develop another soccer field as well as a baseball field on sections of the 32-acre land. The capped area of the landfill will not be developed on, according to Town Administrator Ira Singer.

Read the entire Tri-Town Transcript article

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12.10.07 Danvers Tax Rate Increases for Residents

The Danvers Herald reported that residential tax rates will increase from 10.19 to 10.42%. According to a report by Chief Assessor Marlene Locke, average single-family homes have decreased in value by 6.5%, so individual’s property taxes should not change significantly.

Business rates will decrease from 1.42 to 1.36% and the commercial tax rate decreased from 16.74 to 16.03%. Unlike residential property values, commercial property values remained the same this year, said Locke.

Read the entire Danvers Herald article

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12.5.07 Andover Residents Oppose 88-unit Affordable Housing Development

According to the Andover Townsman, Andover residents are contesting an 88-unit affordable-housing development proposal. The proposed development, known as Northfield Commons, would include 22 affordable units priced between $142,300 and $157,500, according to a Zoning Board of Appeals application filed by the Groton-based, 69 North St. LLC. It would be built in the northwest part of town, near the intersections of North and Webster streets.

With a little more than 345 feet of frontage on North and Webster streets, the Northfield Commons proposal would consist of a mix of single-family, duplex, triplex and garden-style units along with a village green area, open space and walking trails spread out over 14.2 acres, according to the zoning board application. Because Andover’s affordable housing stock is currently under 10% of the state guidelines − at 8.9% with 1,027 units − this proposal could be considered under Chapter 40B, which allows developers to circumvent local zoning rules to encourage development of affordable housing. Market-rate units at Northfield Commons would range from $325,000 to $600,000, according to the zoning board application.

The application for Northfield Commons will go before the town zoning board for the 3rd time on Dec. 6, 2007.

Read the entire Andover Townsman article

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12.5.07 State Grant Helps Landowners Improve Wildlife Habitat

According to the Newburyport Current, Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife is accepting grant applications through Dec. 21, from private landowners, sportsmen’s clubs, land trusts and nonprofit organizations interested in enhancing wildlife habitat on their properties. MassWildlife’s Landowner Incentive Program reimburses private landowners for up to 75% of the cost of managing land to improve habitat for declining wildlife species. The Newburyport Current reports that the Landowner Incentive Program has provided more than $2.1 million for 108 habitat improvement projects since the first round of grants in 2005.

This year’s grant round will give preference to proposed projects to maintain grasslands and create young tree and shrub land habitats. Funding for the Massachusetts program is allocated by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service under a nationwide Landowner Incentive Program. For information about the Landowner Incentive Program and the grant application and criteria, click here.

Read the entire Newburyport Current article

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12.5.07 Amesbury Officials Compromise on 115 Split Tax Rate

The Newburyport Daily News reported that Municipal councilors and the mayor have struck a compromise to leave the town’s split tax rate as-is, with businesses paying a rate 15% higher than homeowners. The average homeowner’s bill will rise by 4% next year ($203). Commercial businesses will see their tax bills go up on average by 21% ($1,708). And industrial properties will see their bills go up on average 12% ($2,084) based on this year’s revaluation. The rate for homeowners is $14.59 per $1,000 of assessed value; for businesses it is $17.20.

The majority of the council had wanted to raise the rate on businesses to 20% more than what homeowners pay; Mayor Thatcher Kezer vetoed that and asked the council to reduce the difference to 10%. In 2006, Amesbury became the first community in the Greater Newburyport area to adopt a split tax rate for homeowners and businesses. Amid strong objections from the public and the mayor at the time — who vetoed last year’s tax rate as well — the Municipal Council adopted the tax rate of 115%.

Read the entire Newburyport Daily News article

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12.5.07 120-Unit Affordable Apartment Complex to be Built Near NECC

The Eagle Tribune reported that in late winter/early spring, construction is expected to be underway for a 120-unit apartment complex neighboring Northern Essex Community College in Haverhill.

The North Essex Crossing complex, being built by developers, Stephen Stapinski of Merrimack Engineering Services and King Weinstein of King Real Estate in Haverhill, was originally approved in 2001 by the Zoning Board of Appeals, and will be built on Route 110, between Wannalancet Road and Airport Lane, less than a quarter-mile from Interstate 495, near Greenleaf Gardens landscaping center and Haverhill Crossings, an assisted-living complex that houses mostly elders.

The development calls for 90 market-rate apartments renting for about $1,500 per month and 30 affordable units that will cost about $950 per month. People with incomes no higher than 80% of the region's median income are eligible for the affordable units.

Read the entire Eagle Tribune article

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