Woodmont Commons Master Plan Discussion Continues

The master plan for the Woodmont Commons Planned Unit Development (PUD), which outlines where residential and commercial buildings will be located, as well as infrastructure, signage, and the location of open spaces, continued in its review by Planning Board members.

The PUD is a 603-acre development that includes the former Woodmont Orchards. At the board’s Wednesday, Aug. 28 meeting, board member Mary Wing Soares said a perimeter buffer of apple trees that had been included in the master plan was important to her.

“I appreciate that there’s going to be a perimeter buffer,” she said. “I guess we want to be sure that the perimeter buffer is going to be in the areas that we spoke about, Hovey Road and Pillsbury Road. I understand the need of the change in the trees if the trees are not healthy or whatever, but my concern is that we have a delineation of exactly how much that three rows along Pillsbury is, so I am hoping that we can see some kind of definition of that.”

She said she didn’t think it was going to be the same number of trees at every point along the road. “So if it has to be that across from the first house (the buffer) will be 75 feet and across from the second house it may be 100 feet or whatever, and if it happens to be because of the configuration of the rows of trees, then I’m hoping that it can be that specific,” Soares said.

The issue of apples trees as a buffer has been a concern by some residents, who have pointed out that Londonderry is known for its apple orchards. Residents have continued to tell the planning board that apple trees should be a part of the PUD buffer as a reminder of that heritage.
Board member Tom Freda, who is a Town Councilor, asked about phasing and whether the infrastructure would have to be completed before building began.

“We wouldn’t be building the entire infrastructure before we begin construction, but we would be building infrastructure in the area of specified construction,” Woodmont planner Emily Innes said.
Michael Brown, who sat on the town council when the PUD ordinance was approved, raised questions regarding phasing and the town’s growth management ordinances (GMO).

He said that existing ordinances should be an “integral part” of all public discussions and hearings on Woodmont. “These sections of our zoning ordinance are directly related to helping our community properly plan and mitigate against infrastructure-related costs from future residential development projects,” Brown said.

“I was one of the individuals who helped craft the GMO and it was to limit the absolute number of residential units, not the tax positive or negative nature,” Brown said.
“I don’t agree with that,” Freda said.

“I assumed you wouldn’t agree with it,” Brown responded. Brown said the GMO was to put an absolute cap on the number of units. “Well, we’re stuck with the PUD you put in, Mike,” Freda retorted.
Board chairman Arthur Rugg said the development agreement that was to be heard later in the meeting (see related story page 1) would address those questions and that Woodmont would be tax positive in all stages of development, and would be bringing in more money than the PUD consumes.
He said the growth management ordinance slows the pace of growth of new development.

“So as the PUD develops, it always has to stay tax positive and not be a burden to taxpayers, and that’s the basic premise of the GMO,” Rugg said. The meeting was continued to Wednesday, Sept. 11.

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