Parcel needs to be rezoned for Genesis project to move forward in Dracut


DRACUT — The future of the planned Genesis HealthCare project now hinges on a vote Dracut residents will take on June 28.

Town Manager Jim Duggan announced Monday at the beginning of Town Meeting that part of the site planned for the 73,000 square-foot skilled rehabilitation facility sits on residential zoning.

“There is a small portion of that parcel which is zoned residentially,” Duggan told residents and officials, adding that it is a small problem that was realized after the fact. “The building itself, a $26 million investment with over 200 jobs and over $370,000 in annual tax that will come to the community, can be put on the business portion of that parcel. However, the parking lot will spill over onto the residential portion, which is very small of that entire parcel.”

A vote on rezoning that portion to commercial is needed to move forward. A Special Town Meeting to vote on the one item has been scheduled for Wednesday, June 28, at 6 p.m., at the Lester G. Richardson Center for the Performing Arts in Dracut High School, 1540 Lakeview Ave.

The entire parcel is 3.6 acres, and just under an acre of that has to be rezoned.

Duggan said Genesis HealthCare wants to come to Dracut “very, very badly,” and that the company wants to break ground on the project in October.

“Therefore, I ask, I invite, I beg, I plead for everyone to come back on June 28,” he said, as several residents chuckled.

Duggan announced last month that the facility is headed to Dracut. He secured the deal after learning from someone in Lowell that a deal to bring Genesis to the city had fallen through. The health-care facility had been slated to be a marquee development for Lowell’s Hamilton Canal Innovation District.

Asked on Tuesday what would happen if the rezoning item isn’t approved on June 28, Duggan said he’s not thinking that way.

“There has been a tremendous amount of support for this around the community,” he stressed. “I don’t believe that it’s not going to pass. That’s not even in the equation.”

Genesis is a Pennsylvania-based, publicly traded company with more than 2,000 facilities in 45 states.

Follow Amaris Castillo on Twitter @AmarisCastillo.