During the April 19th Zoning Board of Adjustment meeting at Town Hall, a housing developer attempted to catch a break with certain building regulations.
Cross Farm Development, LLC is in the process of developing a 200 unit elderly housing community at 57 Adams Road, but is currently coming into conflict with Londonderry Zoning Ordinance 220.127.116.11.C.1, which demands that each house be built 40 feet away from the sidewalk. Cross Farm, and more specifically the contractor for the project, Joseph Maynard, requested a variance that would allow them to reduce this distance to 30 feet, primarily because of the houses being within close proximity to wetlands.
Maynard had his case defended by Morgan Hollis of Gottesman & Hollis, P.A. Hollis noted in his argument that placing houses too close to the wetlands could potentially have an adverse effect on the buildings’ structures, due to their unusual land characteristics. Hollis went further, noting that building the houses closer together could increase the sense of community amongst residents and give them larger back yards by being farther away from the wetlands, stating that “you want it to be its own community…not just be what other communities in the area might be.”
Hollis stated numerous times that the variance would have no negative impact on public interest or the aesthetics of the area, saying that the changes would barely be noticeable and it would all be done to help residents. Hollis also cited an independent appraiser who claimed he also saw no way that the changes could negatively affect the area.
But the variance was not without its detractors. Board Chairman Neil Dunn had several concerns over the variance, including whether or not the structures would follow a consistent format (Maynard assured him that they did), if this was just being done to squeeze in more houses and what would happen if the variance passed, only for the houses to not sell.
Detractors outside of the board also spoke out against the variance. Londonderry School District Business Administrator Peter Curro opposed it because he firmly believed that the ordinances were created for the public wellbeing and needed to be followed, stating that “to simply come in and ask for a waiver…to me, isn’t right.” He also took issue with the mapping of the blueprints and that it was not a final draft.
Resident Dan McCloud showed concern over making a decision on the matter before final plans were established, while Mike Peterson was worried about septic systems being so close to the wetlands and potentially tainting the water, although Mr. Maynard was quick to note that the septic systems being used were smaller than usual and would also be going underneath the streets in between the houses.
After both sides had spoken, the board began their deliberation at roughly 8:00 p.m. Suzanne Brunelle seemed to be in favor of the variance, seeing it as perfectly reasonable in this situation. Dunn was still adamant in his opposition, however, noting that the request seemed unnecessary, as Cross Farm’s side failed to show any sort of guaranteed hardship that would be alleviated by the variance. Vice Chair Jacqueline Bernard also seemed to agree with Dunn on how superfluous the request seemed.
As a result, after roughly an hour of deliberation, the board decided to deny the ordinance via split decision. However, construction of the housing community will still commence in the near future, albeit in accordance with the aforementioned ordinance.