A briefing on a Fiscal Impact Analysis and Development Agreement for the Woodmont Commons Planned Unit Development (PUD) has been continued to June 26. Originally scheduled for the Wednesday, June 12 Planning Board meeting, Woodmont attorney Ari Pollack said the team was not ready to give its presentation because it was still in peer review. Pollack said the materials would be presented at the June 26 Planning Board meeting.
With the continuance of the briefing, resident Jack Falvey was able to give his prepared presentation, which had been scheduled to follow the Woodmont presentation. Falvey moderates an email listserv he calls “Et al” that addresses concerns about 600-plus-acre Woodmont proposal. Falvey showed an eight minute DVD of scenes from Londonderry, featuring the smiling faces of children and pictures of apple orchards. He said the photos were sent to him by residents.
After the video, Falvey addressed the board in a prepared speech. “Over the years many smart people served and built Londonderry. They left us a legacy. It is our job to leave a legacy for those who follow in service to our town,” Falvey said. Falvey said when he arrived in Londonderry, he was told that Interstate 93 was to go through Chester but instead, resident Bill Lievens brought it west, with its two exits (4 and 5) to Londonderry. He said he was also told that one-acre zoning had just passed to accommodate “all those coming up the interstate.”
He said 12 schoolhouses were consolidated into what is now Matthew Thornton Elementary School and building codes were passed that would not allow 55-gallon drums buried in the yard to serve as septic systems.
Falvey said one challenge faced by Londonderry was residential growth supported by farm roads, and Woodmont is adding to that challenge with a new high-density residential model “to be supported on those same 100-year-old roads.”
He praised Bill Lievens for his work as a former selectman, school board member, planning board member and founder and former chair of the Londonderry Housing and Redevelopment Authority, “which built our airport industrial tax base.” Falvey said he had great respect for Lievens’ legacy. Falvey also said that Market Basket was Londonderry’s “largest youth training program, as it hires youth from Londonderry and Derry and employs many senior citizens.
Mike Kettenbach, principal in Pillsbury Realty Development LLC, the Woodmont developer, is also head of real estate acquisitions for Demoulas and Market Basket. “We should be very pleased that such a good corporate citizen is our applicant tonight. Our task is not to transform Londonderry, but rather to blend our legacy with new development,” Falvey said.
Falvey said that transforming 19 acres of the proposed PUD along Gilcreast Road into what he called Apple Way Park would preserve the legacy that apple farming had in Londonderry. The Lievens family is the former owner of Woodmont Orchards, which makes up much of the PUD. After Falvey’s presentation, Planning Board Chairman Arthur Rugg said he had been contacted by the Lievens family, and the family did not want its name associated with Falvey’s presentation and wanted all references to the family name removed.
“That’s all I’m going to say on that,” Rugg said. Board member Leitha Reilly asked Falvey where the 19-acre figure came from. “It came from the plan,” Falvey said. The acreage Falvey referred to is noted on Woodmont’s plans as WC-4 and WC-5, and is across the street from Falvey’s Cortland Street neighborhood. Rugg noted that open space was discussed at the previous Planning Board meeting, as reported in the Londonderry Times, and was still “in flux.” He said the board would “take it into consideration.”
Resident Mike Speltz, who also lives across the street from the proposed park on Sugarplum, said he recognized that the Planning Board could not “dictate which lands would be open space but only that an adequate provision for open space be made.” Speltz, who sits on the Conservation Commission, said the land that Falvey was suggesting for a park featured “prime agricultural soils, which as the board knows, I’ve been arguing for for some time.” He suggested the developers look at that information and consider it as a reason for putting open space in the form of the park at that location.
He also asked when an amended application would be made. Rugg said the schedule called for a Planning Board meeting on June 26, and a meeting in July or possibly August would be the time frame. Other residents, mostly from the Cortland Street development across Gilcreast Road from the PUD, voiced concerns about traffic and possible damage to their water supply, which lies under the proposed PUD.
Residents Jeffrey Smith and Joe Maggio had concerns about two proposed roads that were to come out of the PUD onto Gilcreast and said they would create future traffic problems on a road already plagued by traffic back-up from the stop sign at Gilcreast and Pillsbury roads. Maggio asked what the board’s authority was in placement of the roads.
Rugg said that in any site plan, a traffic study is done and is examined “very scientifically.” He said the board has authority but takes into consideration all the facts before making decisions. Board member Mary Wing Soares read several emails from residents, including one from Walter and Marylin Stocks that said the PUD would be “a city inside the town.” They wrote that they preferred single family housing on one-acre-minimum lots, and that the possible 50,000 additional vehicles from the project “would create a traffic nightmare for the residents of Londonderry.”
Resident John Ouellette wrote that he thinks the PUD would affect the surrounding neighborhoods in a negative way. He said he accesses Gilcreast by Cortland every day, and at certain times of the day, “it is quite difficult because of the heavy traffic.” If two more roads are added, he said that access would be even more difficult.
“If you lived here, you would never support this project,” he said. Pollack said the proposed timeline would be to present the Fiscal Impact and Development Agreement on June 26 with a possibility, depending on the speed of the peer review, of a copy of the full draft of the Master Plan to go forward for the board’s review, although not for presentation.
“So each of you could familiarize yourself with it privately,” Pollack said. He noted that a presentation of those materials would be made on July 10. The meeting was continued to June 26 on a motion by Soares and a second by Rick Brideau.