Council Conditionally Approves Development Agreement

At their Monday, Sept. 9 meeting The Town Council gave conditional approval to the Woodmont Commons development agreement pending planning board approval later in the week on the development’s Planned Unit Development (PUD) application.
The planning board is set to hear the final PUD application at their Sept. 11 meeting after the Londonderry Times goes to press.
On Monday, town attorney Michael Ramsdell presented the Town Council with the Woodmont Commons development agreement, a document already approved by the planning board.

“The purpose (of the development agreement) is not to supplant the need for individual site plans or subdivision applications. What it does is provide the town of Londonderry, and the developer, with ground rules as part of the PUD approval for how development will and can proceed in Woodmont Commons if the application is approved,” Ramsdell said.
Ramsdell stated that some of the issues covered in the development agreement were how Woodmont Commons may be developed pursuant to the PUD master plan, as approved by the planning board. He said that it specifically indicates that the developer will be responsible for mitigation of all thoroughfare development during the build out.
“The build out is anticipated to last probably 20 years, and the development agreement is supposed to be co-terminus with that,” said Ramsdell.
The attorney went on to explain that as part of the fiscal impact statements prepared for Woodmont a plan was developed by an expert working for the development group on the likelihood of the development being cash positive for the town at build out.
Ramsdell noted that the Woodmont expert may be a little ambitious on the positive projections, but that the town’s third party consultant which reviewed the plan agreed that it would be positive, if less enthusiastically.
“To make sure that the town doesn’t suffer any financial hardship, Woodmont Commons has to pay its own way regarding this development. There’s a provision in the development agreement that the PUD must remain on a positive fiscal footing. The cumulative affect of the development must be that it remains revenue positive. 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 for that,” Ramsdell explained.
Councilor Tom Dolan had questions about how the development’s cash positive status would be calculated.
Dolan asked that should the development have a positive status for several years, but then had a couple of years in the negative, would the previously positive years cancel out the negative years?
Ramsdell explained, “If, say, at the end of year four, the development was $100,000 revenue positive but in year five there was a $200,000 shortfall, Woodmont Commons would be obligated to pay the town $100,000 because that’s the cumulative negative effect.”
Ramsdell went on to say that the planning board has previously entertained issues surrounding waivers of the impact fees or the growth management ordinance, but, he said, there is no waiver for either.
“It expressly says in the development agreement that there is no waiver of those things. There are modifications. For example, with the amount of impact fees. Woodmont will pay either the amount of impact fees that were assessed as of March 1 of this year or if the assessments were to go down, they would get the benefit of that,” Ramsdell said.
Ramsdell also said that Woodmont would provide a substation for police if needed, an ambulance, police officer and motorcycle if needed and if an elementary school was needed, they would provide land at below market value for the building of that school.
Woodmont would be also donating three acres to the cemetery, according to Ramsdell.
Councilor Joe Green asked if that donation was the land behind the current cemetery, which he said had a lot of water on it. Attorney Ari Pollack, representing Woodmont, said that the land was to the side of the cemetery.
Dolan took issue with the planning board handling variances of the PUD and not the zoning board. Dolan argued that the Growth Management Ordinance (GMO) was set to expire at a future date and that if it did the town would lose the ability to enforce the GMO. “And we don’t want that to slip through the cracks,” Dolan said.
Dolan also said that although the planning board had capable and conscientious members, it had always been the zoning board that handled all variances and that he couldn’t see why that process should be different with Woodmont.
“One of the issues that I have is…the applicant can apply to the planning board for a waiver of the GMO going forward and my thought is that they ought to have the right to request that it be waived, but that it seems to me that the right venue for that would be, as it has been in the past: the zoning board. That would be a variance to our zoning ordinances,” Dolan said.
Ramsdell said that the way the PUD ordinance and the state statute were written, and because of its large size, because it would have its own zoning rules and because all its plans have to go through the planning board, “it was more affective and made more sense that the planning board would have the consideration that would come in front of it.”
Dolan disagreed.
Dolan asked if the language could be changed to allow zoning to be the proper venue. He was told by Ramsdell and Chairman John Farrell that it was too late to change.
A back and forth ensued, with Dolan requesting that zoning be the arbiter of variance requests and the attorney and council members stating that it could not be changed because of state statute and the nature of the PUD ordinance.
A recess was called by Farrell and the council went into non-public session to review the matter.
When they returned the council voted unanimously to accept the development agreement contingent on the Planning Board’s acceptance of the Woodmont Commons master plan and application, scheduled to take place on Wednesday, September 11.

Both comments and pings are currently closed.

Comments are closed.