Woodmont Master Plan Covers Open Space

Attorney Ari Pollack of the Concord firm Gallagher, Callahan and Gartrell, and Mike Kettenbach, principal in Pillsbury Realty Development, LLC, outlined open space plans for the proposed 603-acre Woodmont Commons Planned Unit Development (PUD) at the Planning Board.

Before discussions began at the Wednesday, June 5 meeting, the review clock – the time the development team needed to brief the board on the development – was extended unanimously by the Planning Board to July 7. The fiscal impact report and development agreement, as well as the master plan draft, remain to be presented, with fiscal impact set for June 12 or 26, the development agreement for June 26, and the compiled draft master plan for June 26.

The Woodmont property is divided into 12 sub-areas for reference, numbered WC-1 (Woodmont Commons-1) to WC-12. At last week’s meeting, areas WC-8 and the proposed Pond WC-3 were the focus of discussion.

Tom Goodwin of the design firm Shook Kelly said that in past meetings the sub-areas, proposed building placement and residential areas had been outlined, including the village core and placement of publicly accessible open spaces and conserved green spaces.

“The conserved green space includes both regulated and open space together,” he said. “In WC-8, for instance, there is an agricultural pitch that runs down the center of it and we are preserving it as a feature, so it is a conserved area that has publicly accessible features in it.” He added that not all the conserved space would be publicly accessible, including some wetlands.

“What we wanted to do tonight is to show you WC-8 and WC-3, which is the pond, to show you that not only are the areas significant but are of value to both Woodmont Commons and to the Town of Londonderry,” Goodwin said.

He said WC-8 was open space that runs through the residential area of the development and would have a connected trail and sidewalk system around the pond. He added that the open spaces would not be in people’s backyards but would be fronted by streets and accessible not only to Woodmont residents but to the rest of the town. The open space areas would be within walking distance of a majority of the PUD.

Goodwin said the pond would be about 39 acres. In answer to a question by board member Al Sypek as to where the water for the pond would come from, Kettenbach said it would be snow runoff and rain, as well as from a spring in the area. He said the development team was committed to allowing only the current amount of water to go downstream.

Sypek was concerned that in low precipitation situations, the water level would be reduced and the mud left behind would “stink.” Kettenbach said the plan would not allow the water in the pond to be reduced to that level.

He said that what they envisioned was a pond that could be used for boating, skating and fishing, and noted the development team was working not only with local officials but also with state and federal agencies. Board member Maria Newman said she would like to see several playgrounds in the open spaces.

Goodwin said the team had addressed that and noted it was difficult “at this scale to show that. It is in our palette of tools and it is important to Woodmont Commons to provide those spaces,” Goodwin said. Kettenbach told the board that some of the input on what to include in the open space areas came from Londonderry High School students.

Board member Leitha Reilly asked what would happen if the pond were to overflow from heavy rain, and Kettenbach repeated that “We have already made a commitment to you that no greater amount of water will leave the site than that which is leaving it now.”

Board member Laura El-Azem asked if subcontractors would be responsible for “this stuff, or will there be an umbrella organization that would do mowing and snow plowing?”

Kettenbach said homeowners’ associations would control what is being developed through covenants and restrictions, with a master developer overseeing the area.
Board member Tom Freda asked how much of the development was open space and Goodwin said it was about 25 percent.

Assistant Public Works Director John Trottier questioned whether the pond “was actually a pond or a swamp.” Chairman Art Rugg asked if there would be other areas of open space for people to use and Goodwin noted squares and areas with active and passive recreation.

Resident Ann Chiampa asked how much land had been donated to the cemetery in response to a comment by Kettenbach that land had been donated to a cemetery on the north side of the property. Goodwin said he thought it was 2 or 3 acres.

Resident Mike Speltz, who is a member of the town Conservation Commission, said he thought it would be a good idea to set up open space minimums. He said he had a concern that the plan as presented now could be different later, but board member Mary Wing Soares said that would mean it did not follow the master plan and would not be allowed.

Goodwin affirmed that the master plan was a commitment and wouldn’t be changed after acceptance. Ted Brovitz from HSH (Howard/Stein-Hudson), the third-party reviewer for Woodmont, said that when the compiled master plan is presented, the complete picture of what is proposed for Woodmont Commons would be realized.

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