Woodmont Commons Development Agreement Goes to Town Council

The Woodmont Commons development agreement is heading to the Town Council for a vote.
The agreement was one of the focuses of the Planning Board at its 7 p.m. meeting Wednesday, Aug. 28, a meeting that followed a 6 p.m. meeting between the Planning Board and Town Attorney Mike Ramsdell to go over the document.

Board member John Laferriere noted the board received the final agreement at 4 p.m. that same day.
The agreement includes a 20-year duration from the date of execution, development of Woodmont Commons as a Planned Unit Development (PUD), a schedule of development, future changes and modifications, restrictive covenants, infrastructure such as roads and their design, New Hampshire Department of Transportation approvals, transportation development fees, impact fees, a cemetery donation of up to three acres, and land within the PUD for schools if the town deems that a school is warranted.

Resident John Wilson asked of the document was solely the work of the developers or was a collaboration, and board chairman Arthur Rugg said it was the result of collaboration of the attorneys. Wilson said he liked the concept of the developers agreeing to pay shortfalls in tax revenue if the development doesn’t stay tax positive.

“That being said, the devil’s in the details,” he continued. “In this agreement, when and not if this becomes disputed, the agreement should answer any questions. And this is really a sparse document, considering how important it is.”

Wilson said he wasn’t “crazy” about how the formulation of tax positive or tax negative would be determined. He suggested that a Certified Public Accountant be hired to handle the complexities of the development and the tax revenues due the town.
“The next thing this needs is for the town to get some sort of first security or something because this agreement is going to be passed down from developer to developer for the next 20 years,” Wilson said. “You need to know proof positive that if it goes negative, there’s money available for you.”

He also suggested a clause that addresses dispute resolution and said any decision of the voters should be final. “The agreement has to rely on the wisdom of the voters to make the right decisions,” Wilson said.

Wilson added that the PUD should be tax positive every year, not just at build-out.
Ramsdell said experts had looked at the formula, which had been arrived at so that tax-positive status could be achieved.

“There were experts in this field, one from each side who worked together, and this board accepted that formula all the way back in May,” Ramsdell said. Resident Mike Speltz said he had questions about the duration of the agreement and thought a provision should be included that said that if there’s no substantial construction progress after the initial subdivision plan for a period of time, the agreement would be for less than 20 years.

“What if there is a recession and no one is buying – do we punish the developer?”” board member Tom Freda responded. “You can always amend this agreement,” Speltz said. Resident Mike Brown, a former town councilor, asked if the agreement was connected into the PUD Master Plan waivers.
“I don’t think that there is a single waiver in the development plan, not one,” Ramsdell said.

When Rugg asked for a vote to recommend the agreement to the Town Council, Laferriere said the board had just received the document and he hadn’t had time to properly review it. He asked if the other board members were comfortable voting to recommend it, and Rugg said it was a recommendation and up to the Town Council to vote on it.

“So we received the document at 4 o’clock and we have a meeting at 6 o’clock, we’re here at 7 o’clock. For those on the board, have you had time to review this?” Laferriere said.
Board member Maria Newman said she had reviewed it. A vote was taken to recommend the agreement to the Town Council. It passed 7-2, with Lynn Wiles and Laferriere opposed.

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