Heritage Commission Hears Overview of Workforce Apartments

Karl Dubay of the Dubay Group Civil Engineers and developer Tom Monihan met with the Heritage Commission to discuss the planned workforce housing rental units that will be located on 25 acres on Perkins Road.

The development had gone through a lengthy process before the Zoning Board of Adjustment, where it requested three variances. The first variance was to build 24-unit buildings rather than the 16-unit buildings the ordinance required, the second was to have 50 percent workforce housing where 75 percent is required, and the third was to build the complex in three phases, where five is required.

Originally, the variance requests were denied, but Attorney Jay Leonard requested a rehearing and all three variances were granted. Now before the Heritage Commission, Wallace Farm rental workforce housing developers presented the commission what it envisions for the development.

“Most of the buildings will be towards the back of the property, with two in the front across the street from Vista Ridge Drive, and Mr. Monihan has additional property that at some later time will be elderly housing, as the town has asked Tom if he would do some elderly as well,” Dubay said at the commission’s Thursday, June 27 meeting.

Dubay said he did not know when that would happen. He also said they had initial survey and wetland flagging done, with more to be done in the near future. “One of the important things is that along Perkins Road there is a natural berm with a lot of vegetation in there, with fields behind it. We want to keep that berm, to maintain that berm and to protect it, and where there is openings, we will infill that with landscaping,” Dubay said.

Dubay said the only area that is open that they would want to keep open is where the farmhouse stands. That section contains the farmhouse, a shed, a well house, and a garage that is about 16 years old.

“We want to take a look at those outbuildings, take a look at the house itself, and work with the town on what would happen with the house and outbuildings and how that fits in with the culture and the landscaping,” Dubay said.

According to a conceptual artist’s rendering, the development will have eight buildings along Interstate 93 perpendicular to the highway, and two buildings closer toward Perkins Road, also perpendicular to the roadway. Dubay said the ends of the buildings closest to Perkins Road would be heavily landscaped to hide their presence from Perkins Road.

“We believe that this will be the first rental workforce housing from the ground up in town in a long time,” Dubay said. Monihan said that it was important to remember that it was going to be an apartment complex.

“A lot of times people come in and it’s condos,” he said. “This is one of the first apartment complexes built in Londonderry in 35 or 40 years. With the workforce housing component, it is going to be 50 percent workforce housing, which I think will allow people who can’t afford to buy a house but want to stay in Londonderry to be able to stay by having the apartment option open to them.”

Monihan said he had been building houses and had gotten into building more apartments in the last four or five years. He said that with apartments, there was only one owner, himself, and it was in his best interest to keep the property properly maintained and looking good in order to attract renters.

“I’m looking to the future,” he said. “I’m looking down the road. I’m not doing it for the profit for the next three, four years. I’m looking for the profit in 10 years as my debt goes down and the rents increase.”

Dubay described the buildings as having stone along the foundation with vinyl siding, and said they are looking at several earth tone color schemes. Commissioner Jim Butler asked if the stone would be engineered or real, and Monihan said they hadn’t made that decision yet. He noted there would be landscaping in front of the foundation as well.

Monihan said, in answer to a question about television dishes, that they would probably not be allowed, as is the case in a development he constructed in Bedford, and talks would be held with Comcast to provide cable television for the buildings.

Commissioner Pauline Caron asked what would be done with any existing stone walls and was assured by Monihan that any stone walls that needed to be disturbed would be mitigated.
Commissioner David Colglazier asked about the presence of elevators and was told there were none, although there is a provision built into the plans to add elevators if they were needed.

He also asked if the plans to have window mullions of four over one could be changed to four over four or some other variation, and Dubay said that could be accomplished. He noted the mullions were inside the glass for easier cleaning.

In answer to Commissioner Sue Joudrey’s question about roofing material, she was told it would be architectural asphalt shingles. Commissioner Martin Srugis asked how entrance lighting would be handled, and he was told a wall sconce would be located next to every door, with ceiling-mounted lighting above the doors.

“It’s going to be LED (Light Emitting Diode) and energy efficient lighting,” Dubay said.
Colglazier asked what would happen with the farmhouse and outbuildings, and Monihan said he was open to working with the town to see if they were historic and if money were available to preserve them. He said that at first there was an idea to use the house for office space, but found that codes would require modernization and renovation.

Colglazier asked about the possibility of renting it out and Monihan said that he wouldn’t be averse to being a landlord for the house. The commissioners agreed to meet with the developers at their next meeting to discuss landscaping and other aspects of the project.

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