Residents gathered at the North Andover Senior Center Tuesday night as the Zoning Board of Appeals listened to updates about water and sewer research for proposed 40B apartment development near Route 114.
North Andover Holdings LLC has proposed a 240-unit for Berry Street, a seemingly rural road off Route 114 near the Middleton line.
The company has filed the proposal under Chapter 40B, a state law that requires a certain percentage of a town's new units be affordable and also allows developers to work around local zoning bylaws.
The project outraged many residents of that neighborhood, who have fought back with an alliance known as the Berry Street Neighborhood Association.
Since then, the developer has modified plans to try to placate concerns about wetlands, traffic and land conservation. And the plan now calls for 216 units instead of 240 as well as buildings moving closer together to leave more land untouched. But residents have not been impressed.
On Tuesday, representatives from North Andover Holdings attended the Zoning Board meeting hoping to discuss a new version of their plan, but because they had cancelled on the board Monday, the board hadn't looked at the new plan.
Theodore Regnante, attorney for the developer, seemed frustrated, calling the meeting "a complete waste of time."
Eric Loth, head of North Andover Holdings, quickly interrupted and offered to instead discuss how things were going with the neighborhood opposition.
"Not only does everyone around here have to live with what we build, but we’re gonna have to live with it too," Loth said. He pointed out the changes made to the original plans, which he compared to "moving pieces around on puzzle," and said residents have been a little more receptive to the new scaled-down version.
"The feedback was fairly positive," Loth said. "There are still concerns over traffic. And we did lose 10 percent of the units in the development plan."
Jeff Moon, President of the Berry Street Neighborhood Association, concurred.
"We have some discussions, they’ve been frank discussions," Moon said. "They have what they want and we have our concerns."
This doesn't mean residents are ceding, and the Berry Street detente may be short-lived.. Moon said even after meetings with Loth and others, residents still have concerns about the "appropriateness" of a large apartment complex on Berry Street, including traffic impacts.
"At this stage, we’re at least talking," Moon said. "This is an emotional issue for many people. You have residents who have lived here a long time and are concerned about the impact."
Traffic concerns are likely to continue. Berry Street is a narrow "country" road that leads to one of the busiest roads in the region, and Berry Street would be the only way to and from the complex.
"The traffic tie-up on Berry Street, I just think that’s a nightmare," Zoning Board member Allen Cuscia said. "The poor people who live in the back of Berry Street, how are they going to make it to work on time? And what about the winter time?Loth said that the typical Dunkin' Donuts sees less traffic than the proposed complex would.
"You expect me to believe that? I got a bridge for sale," Cuscia said.
The third version of the plan -- which Loth says further addresses residential worries -- will be shared with residents and officials in the next couple weeks.
The board will meet again to discuss the development on Oct. 22 7 p.m.at town hall.