Wallace Farm Workforce Housing Faces Conservation Questions

Karl Dubay of Dubay Group Civil Engineers and Luke Hurley of Gove Environmental Engineers met with the Conservation Commission to discuss the planned workforce housing rental unit property known as Wallace Farm, set for 25 acres on Perkins Road, and faced questions about wetland and buffer impact.
Dubay told the Commission at its Tuesday, Nov. 12 meeting, that he has been working with the Wallace family for several years to help them with their property, just off Exit 5 of Interstate 93.

“After meeting with them several times around the wood stove in their kitchen, the issue of workforce housing came up and at the same time, Londonderry had put together a task force report on the top 10 or 12 sites that good quality workforce housing could be brought forth in town,” Dubay said. “Workforce housing is not low-income housing. It is housing that is affordable, that the average Joe with an average income can afford to live in and be a part of the community.”
Dubay said that out of all the lots his team looked at, the Wallace property was the best because of its gentle slope, its location near Exit 5, and its access to sewer and water.
Dubay said 10 buildings will be constructed, with each garden-style building housing 24 units – three floors with eight units per floor. Eight buildings will be on the side of the property along I-93 and two buildings will be closer to Perkins Road.
“That’s 240 units in 10 buildings plus a clubhouse,” Dubay said.
Dubay explained that a stream bisects the property in a north/south direction, and there are a few places where that stream would have to be crossed.
“There’s going to be a private access road that will enter the property across from the Vista Ridge Drive entrance and loop around and re-enter Perkins Road, so Mr. Monihan went out and got more properties so now what was 24 acres is 46 acres,” Dubay said. Tom Monihan is developer of the project.
Dubay said the extra acreage could one day become elderly housing.
Dubay said they had been working with the fire department, and the road will be 24 feet rather than 28 feet.
He noted several environmental impacts, both wetland and buffer.
Hurley said the loop road will impact the wetland by about 360 square feet, with a buffer impact of 11,900 square feet. He said the road had to curve as it came into the property and had to be placed across Vista Ridge Road per staff recommendations, so the development team negotiated with the motel that adjoins the property for easements.
According to Dubay, the loop access road comes into the property and curves to the right to stay as far as possible from wetlands and the buffer zone, but it does impact both. At a couple of points to access the buildings along I-93, the road will traverse the stream at an angle, creating longer wetland impacts at the stream site.
Commissioner Mike Speltz asked if that road could be reconfigured as to lessen the impact, and Dubay said that given the terrain, it would be too steep.
Dubay noted no proposed buildings are in the buffer.
Commission Chairman Deb Lievens asked about landscaping because one of the buildings touched the buffer.
“What are you going to do? Where is the lawnmower going to go?” Lievens asked.
Dubay said the slope was such that it could be mowed, and they wanted to re-vegetate the area.
Commissioners asked if the building touching the buffer could be removed or reconfigured. Commissioner Marge Badois suggested the building be reduced in size, and that a building that stood alone could be enlarged.
Dubay said that they had been before the Zoning Board of Adjustment and had received variances that allowed for specific sized buildings with a specific number of units.
“We can’t make one building smaller by making another building larger because we can have 24-unit buildings, and to enlarge the other building would be to have more units than allowable, as it already has the maximum 24 units,” Dubay said.
Dubay said they would look at the situation but removing a building was not an option.
Dubay will research the matter and return to the Commission at a later date.

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