The Londonderry Planning Board has approved a two-lot subdivision off of Colonial Drive, with several conditions.
In its Feb. 1 meeting the board heard from engineer Eric Mitchell representing the applicant, QCM, LLC, on the subdivision of one residential lot on Colonial Drive into two.
The property is Map 5, Lot 20, and is zoned AR-1. The property is owned by Moreau Living Trusts
In describing the project to the board, Mitchell said the right-of-way will be on to Colonial Drive. The proposal is to take an existing 8.5 acre lot and divide it into two lots, one at 2.2 acres and the other at 6.7 acres. The houses will have four bedrooms or fewer, and will have septic systems and wells, he said.
A variance has already been approved by the Zoning Board for 50 feet of frontage, rather than the required 150 feet.
The property does have a “named wetland,” the Colonial Wetland, Mitchell said, with a 100-foot buffer.
The developers asked the town for two waivers, one to the size of the culvert pipe and one to the amount of cover over the pipe. Because the culvert is not public and is restricted to the two homes, Mitchell said, the developers asked for a 12-inch pipe with a 24-inch cover, rather than the standard 15-inch pipe and 36 inches of cover.
“It is a shared driveway, not a road,” Mitchell told the board. “There will be less traffic.”
John Trottier, assistant director of public works, said that the staff position was to deny the first waiver and grant the second. “We consider this a drainage system and do not support the reduction of the pipe size,” he told the board.
Planning Director Colleen Mailloux said that the Conservation Commission had reviewed the proposal and had concern about Blandings turtles living in the area. She said the developers have agreed to have a wetland scientist on site during construction and that there would be periodic monitoring after construction.
“How often is ‘periodic’?” acting chairman Mary Wing Soares asked. “That is a question for the wetland scientist,” Trottier responded.
Several abutters spoke in the public comment portion of the meeting.
Abutter Jeff Truesdale criticized the position of the shared driveway for the two new homes. “This would put a driveway around the back of my house,” he said, noting that he already has a road in front. “I would feel like I was living in a moat,” he told the board.
The driveway for the proposed two homes would go by his bedroom, his children’s bedrooms and a bathroom, he said.
While Trottier said the driveway will be 65 feet from Truesdale’s home, Truesdale responded, “I can look out my bathroom window and see where the flags are.”
Soares noted that the board’s policy is to advise the residents to speak to the abutters, and work out their problems.
“We can’t compel them to do anything,” Soares said. “They are meeting all the requirements.”
Abutter Diane Capen asked what the developers are doing to protect abutters’ properties. “We are on well water,” she said. “If you displace any water, it may contaminate ours.” There is also the possibility, during construction, of material and vehicle waste, she said. Winter salt, she said, is also a factor.
“We have a septic system that is incredibly close to your right-of-way,” Capen said. “You need to make sure it is not damaged in any way.”
Capen called for more studies to be done, including environmental impact, endangered species and their habitats, and high-intensity soil studies.
“There has been a tremendous increase of development in Londonderry,” Capen said, noting that she had been drawn to the town by its rural nature.
Truesdale also expressed concern about a possible vernal pool on the property. “Have we confirmed that it’s there?” he asked Mitchell.
Mitchell said it had not been confirmed, and noted that that is impossible to do except in the spring. “It looks like a possible vernal pool,” he said. “There are leaves on the bottom, not vegetation. It’s definitely a wetland, but we can’t confirm that it is a vernal pool.” Vernal pools are breeding sites for frogs, toads and salamanders, and Mitchell said there were no eggs found in summer, fall or winter.
Capen said, “Is the board aware that you looked at the vernal pool in the driest part of the year? That situation is going to change.”
Abutter Brian Russell asked to see a schedule on the monitoring by the wetland scientist. “I don’t want to hear, ‘I’ll be there sometime,'” he told the board. Russell asked if he could be notified when the wetland scientist begins the monitoring.
“I’m not sure when they’ll begin construction,” Trottier responded. “We will discuss it in the pre-construction meetings, and make sure when the monitoring will start.”
Will you tell me?” Russell pressed.
“This is not something we are able to do,” Soares said, adding that Russell can call Planning and get specific dates.
In the board’s deliberations, member Chris Davies asked Mitchell, “Will the right-of-way go into the vernal pool?”
Mitchell said no. “The physical width may go in, but the actual construction will not.” He said the driveway, slopes and shoulders would not affect the vernal pool.
The board approved the waiver for the amount of cover over the pipe, and denied the waiver request for a smaller pipe. After attaching several conditions, including one that would protect abutters’ leach fields, the board gave unanimous conditional approval to the project.