A Tale of Two Developments

After the endless meetings and at least two demonstrations by opponents, the Woodmont Commons Planned Unit Development has been approved.
There should be no question that the face of Londonderry will change. The size of the development – more than 600 acres – is huge, but with a 20-year proposed buildout, change will come incrementally, giving everyone a chance to get used to the new landscape.
And if the developers have made a wise decision, the walkable community concept is likely to keep some residents in town who otherwise would leave, and bring new residents to the area. After years of waiting and endless talk, Londonderry can finally start seeing economic development happen.
The town’s attorney said at the Sept. 9 Town Council meeting, “to make sure that the town doesn’t suffer any financial hardship, Woodmont Commons has to pay its own way regarding this development….If in any given year Woodmont were to come to the end of the term not having produced more revenue than whatever expenses were there, then Woodmont would have to pay the town the difference.”
That’s a concept agreed to by the developer.
How strikingly different that is from what is being proposed for the development of Pettengill Road – where the town – read that as the taxpayer – seeks to assume the financial burden from would-be private developers.
While there was plenty of outcry against various aspects of the Woodmont Commons plan – keeping apple trees from a defunct orchard as a buffer being one of the most repeated – we hear little from taxpayers about the cost they will take on for funding development of Pettengill Road. Is the Manchester-Boston Regional Airport planning to fork over some cash for that development? How about the property owners who stand to gain big time from a road accessing their land?
Most property owners develop their own land – Woodmont Commons is a case in point, with the property owner paying the bills – but town officials want to make a big exception for Pettengill.
It’s the norm for developers to come forward with proposals for boosting economic growth. With Pettengill, it’s Londonderry that wants to give a few property owners the means to make money, banking that the town will reap economic benefits as a result. Maybe it would. But it makes far more sense for the gamble to be paid for by those standing to make a profit, and thus having the most to lose by failure, instead of putting the burden on Londonderry residents’ already overtaxed wallets.

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