After almost a year of being held up by disputes and court battles, it appears the Town may finally see progress on the 600-plus-acre Woodmont Commons PUD (Planned Unit Development).
“It’s a big deal,” Town Manager Kevin Smith said, noting the project was approved in the fall of 2013, but was held up for almost a year when plans for an access road from Nashua Road (Route 102) to Pillsbury Road for a new, much larger Market Basket store stalled.
The Londonderry Planning Board had approved DeMoulas Super Markets’ proposed site plan for a new store several years ago with the agreement that the company would work with Pillsbury Realty to coordinate the appropriate means of providing future access to the former Woodmont Orchard parcel and Pillsbury Road through an easement or other legal agreement to be worked out between the parties.
The future access should allow for an eventual four-lane roadway connection, but could initially be designed as a two-lane roadway. No certificate of occupancy for the relocated supermarket was to be issued until an agreement for the future access was completed and a copy was provided to the Community Development Department for the project file. The agreement was signed in May 2011, and the new store has been in operation for several years.
In June 2014, relatives of Market Basket chief executive officer Arthur T. DeMoulas, who owned a 49.5 percent share in the supermarket chain, took control of the company, creating uncertainty as to whether they would honor an agreement to build the access road.
Following the Market Basket takeover, Pillsbury Realty Development, LLC filed a lawsuit in Merrimack Superior Court on March 28 accusing DeMoulas Super Markets of alleged breach of contract and purposeful, deliberate, and continued delay in fulfilling its obligations under the Access Agreement signed in May 2011, thereby blocking the company’s ability to move forward with its development plans.
Pillsbury Realty alleged DeMoulas Super Markets’ actions put the entire Woodmont Commons project in jeopardy.
A court date was set for Sept. 18, but court action was stayed until early 2015 when it appeared Arthur T. DeMoulas would have the opportunity to buy out the remaining shares in the company and resume direction of Market Basket stores.
Pillsbury Realty and the Town of Londonderry proceeded with engineering on the access road while litigation was pending to allow construction to begin in early 2015, if the issues were resolved.
After prolonged negotiation, Arthur T. Demoulas bought the remaining shares of his company and resumed his position as CEO, which Pillsbury attorney Daniel Luker told the Londonderry Times in September would be a “win/win” outcome for both parties.
“Now that things have been resolved, I suspect we will start to see Woodmont move forward,” Smith said.
Pillsbury Realty LLC Principal Michael Kettenbach said he can’t comment on any new developments with the project until they come before the Planning Board and the public.
The next step for the project would be for conceptual plans and designs for the access road, which is important to the Town in terms of traffic mitigation, to be brought before the Planning Board, which would “really start the process,” according to Smith.
“I haven’t seen anything yet,” he said.