Attorney Ari Pollack of Gallagher, Callahan and Gartrell, speaking on behalf of Pillsbury Realty, developer of Woodmont Commons, gave the Planning Board its required annual report on “reasonably expected development.”
At the board’s Wednesday, Feb. 12 meeting, Pollack said, “we’re here this evening to give you a vision of what is coming forward. Obviously we’ve had four winter months not traditionally construction months since the approval became final in October, so we don’t have a whole lot to deliver.”
Woodmont, covering 600-plus acres, is the town’s first Planned Unit Development (PUD) with its own master plan. Pollack noted that the development plan for the project, signed off by each of the landowners and the Town of Londonderry, was registered with Rockingham County Registry of Deeds on Jan. 29.
Pollack said 3 acres the developer deliberately left outside of the PUD will be donated to the cemetery on Hovey Road. He said he has spoken with Cemetery Sexton Kent Allen and would meet with the town to plot out conceptually how the donation will look. They will then go before the Planning Board with a subdivision application.
“The final goal here is that once the subdivision plan is approved, to transfer ownership of that land to the trustees of the cemetery and to remove Pillsbury from the equation. We think that can happen in a four month time period,” Pollack said.
Pollack then turned to the access road from Route 102 (Nashua Road) to Pillsbury Road, a road known as Garden Lane and that leads from Route 102 to Market Basket near the grocery store’s previous location.
“The access road actually arose out of a Planning (Board) condition related to the relocation of the Market Basket from one side of the existing retail plaza to the other,” he recalled. “The supermarket was approved in 2010 and it opened in 2011 (in its new location). One of the conditions of approval was that DeMoulas Supermarket and Pillsbury work together to bring the road forward, and an access agreement was signed by those parties and brought to the town in advance of the certificate of occupancy being issued to the supermarket.”
Pollack said the timing of road construction was linked to the approval of the PUD’s master plan.
He said the access road will be a southern gateway to the PUD and therefore alleviate traffic on Gilcreast Road, which runs parallel to the access road.
“It will allow early development focus on commercial/retail users of the PUD,” Pollack explained.
He said the anticipated timeframe for the road was six months for design and 18 months to completion. Some demolition of the old Market Basket location would occur. He noted there would be design review by town staff.
Board member Maria Newman asked if the businesses currently occupying the old Market Basket building would be relocating, and Woodmont developer Mike Kettenbach said they would remain.
Pollack also discussed the proposed – and unfunded – exit 4A off Interstate 93. He said Pillsbury is “exercising some patience” as it awaits the outcome of the 2014 state legislative session regarding funding.
“If I-93 is funded and if exit 4A is funded, if these things come to fruition, then we can offer a better product to the community and be more attractive to some of the regional players. If that doesn’t happen, we’ll adjust accordingly,” Pollack said. He is expecting to hear more within four months.
Pollack said the developers have met with the Manchester Chamber of Commerce, Greater Derry Londonderry Chamber of Commerce and the Southern New Hampshire Planning Commission, and will continue to meet with groups that invite them to outline the project.
Pollack said the fiscal impact of the PUD will be evaluated, as no physical construction occurred in 2013, and there will be a reassessment of cumulative fiscal impact for 2014.
The rough chronology of what happens next, he said, is that from months six onward, the access road construction will begin, with completion by month 24, and public briefings will be ongoing.
Board member Lynn Wiles asked if the access road was the only construction planned, and Pollack said it is a case of “if you build it, they will come” and the road is the beginning.
Wiles asked if there were plans to update the Woodmont Commons website and Pollack said it would be looked into.
Assistant Public Works Director John Trottier said much planning and engineering is needed for the design of the access road. “It isn’t as simple as looking at it and putting a stamp on it,” he said.
Resident Mike Speltz said it was hard to predict what could happen in 24 months. He said he was curious what the developer’s priorities are, if market conditions allow them to be pursued. “What would you be doing first?” he asked.
Pollack said concentration would be on the southern tier and the retail portion of the project but added that he couldn’t predict the future.
Resident Ann Chiampa asked if there was a design change with the access road. Pollack said there were several concepts and variations that are being discussed.