Marblehead Highlands

A Primer on Chapter 40B

December 1, 2005: Fire investigators rule the Peach Highlands fire to be arson. Chief Dixey and the State Fire Marshall agreed that the evidence is indisputable. Arson. Now the hunt begins. A $5,000 reward has been offered for information leading to the arrest of the culprit.

Developer up the anty on arson arrest reward to $40,000. "Let's hope it gets some people's attention," said Ted Moore, owner and developer. The rebuilding of the site is already underway.

November 30, 2005: Fire ruled an arson. The fire at "Marblehead Highlands" on Saturday, November 12, has been ruled an arson creating a loss of $3 million and the homes of 22 prospective residents. The search for the arsonist continues.

November 15, 2005: Fire remains a mystery. Even though Fire Marshalls are working hard on the cause of the fire, no determination has been made, yet. "It's a long and tedious process," said Lieutenant Mike Porter of the Marblehead Fire Department, as reported in the Daily Item today.

November 14, 2005: Fire engulfs and destroys part of Marblehead Highlands, investigation follows. At the street address few Marbleheaders recognize (36 Intepid Circle) a fire swept through all the previous neighborhood controversy and anger with an ill wind that stirred debate, rumor and hesitation. But the fire department wasted no time in speculation. The 9:30p.m., three-alarm fire including the department's of Nahant, Swampscott, Lynn, Peabody (Beverly and Salem were on standby), and all the determination of men and women who want nothing more than to stop fires before they can do their worst, did not carry the day as the 21-two-bedroom-unit, 33,000 square foot, four-story building collapsed in a smoldering heap. It was largest of building grouping on the property. Lieutenant Michael Porter of the Town fire department was quoted in the Boston Globe, "By the time we got water on it, it just took off. It was lightweight construction and it just burned real fast." And really hot, he also said. Firefighters tried to get into the building, but were unable to fight off the intense heat. The building was two months from occupancy. It was later stated that building was still missing a stairway inside and the construction channel may have created "a chimney effect" once the fire was burning. However, a passerby the next day wondered to a reporter, "What would have happened if people were in there?" This building was the first "Chapter 40B" development in Marblehead and was surrounded with intense neighborhood opposition. The project was developed by Ted Moore/Glover Property, whose career and other developments were often marred by neighborhood and Town opposition. No official was prepared, as of this writing, to pronounce the cause of the fire suspicious or not suspicious. Still, the State Fire Marshall's office did dispatch a specially-trained arson dog, a Black Labrador named "Tubbs," to the scene to see if anything smelled funny, plus a helicopter to photograph the conflagration. But the rumor mill was churning at the local coffee spots. Click on the photos below for larger views.

Police are asking any residents or viewers of the fire who photographs or video of the blaze should contact the Marblehead Police Department at (781) 631-1234 or the State Fire Marshall's office at (978) 567-3310.

November 3, 2005: Selectmen call for Chapter 40B to be scaled back. In the wake of a highly contentious meeting on October 25, the Board sent a letter to the Massachusetts Housing Financing Agency demanding that the state stop cramming "affordable housing component" projects into Marblehead under the well-intentioned but badly-outcomed Chapter 40B.

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