Bid to Purchase Stonehenge Complex Property Fails

A member of the Londonderry Town Council confirmed this weekend that the town made inquiries about purchasing a tract of land on Stonehenge  Road. But the developers were not interested in pursuing the matter.

Tom Freda, vice-chair of the Town Council, said, “inquiries were made, but the owners were not interested.”

The parcel is Tax Map 12, Lots 120 and 131, and is zoned AR-1. The proposal by First Londonderry Association LLC is to build a multi-family workforce housing apartment complex consisting of 12 24-unit buildings with 288 rental units.

The project has come under fire in two public hearings, with residents worried about the effect of 288 units on everything from traffic to aesthetics. Residents worried about traffic on the two-lane Stonehenge Road, a connector between Route 28 and Mammoth roads, and expressed particular doubts about what traffic generated by the new residents would do to the intersection of Stonehenge and 28, already deemed at-risk. Other residents criticized the view that homeowners on Faye Lane and in its vicinity would have once the complex was built.

Former Conservation Chair Deborah Lievens has expressed concern about the project’s effect on Little Cohas Brook, while in an earlier hearing Fire Lt. Bo Butler said he had responded to too many accidents at Stonehenge and 28. Parents of children at North Elementary School worried about the effect of the complex on both the school itself and the traffic.

Town Councilor Jim Butler, the Council representative to the Planning Board, openly expressed his concerns.

Council Chair John Farrell expressed his feelings in a letter read to his fellow Councilors and the television audience in the Dec. 19 Council meeting.

The Residences at MacGregor Cut are the proverbial square peg in a round hole, Farrell wrote. He wrote, “These areas and neighborhoods weren’t built for this situation, no matter what the traffic study says.”

At that time, he called on his four fellow Councilors to direct Town Manager Kevin Smith to work with Town Attorney Michael Ramsdell to analyze and review all possible legal remedies, including purchasing the land themselves. But the effort to purchase the land failed. In a conversation with Smith, Nutfield publisher Debra Paul learned that developers would not give Ramsdell an estimated figure because they were not interested in selling. Also in the conversation with Smith, Paul was told that if the Planning Board voted the project down, the developers would take the town to court.

In a phone call this past weekend Farrell referred questions on the offer to Freda because Farrell is the Council’s alternate to the Planning Board and Butler is the Council’s representative. Farrell stated that he didn’t feel comfortable with either himself or Butler commenting on the issue, since there was a possibility either one would have to vote on it.

Freda said no dollar figure was involved. “The inquiry was made, would they be interested? And the answer was ‘no.'”

Hearings were held on Dec. 22 and Feb. 1, and both were postponed. The public hearing will be continued this Wednesday, March 8, The MacGregor Cut hearing beings at 7:30 p.m. in the Moose Hill Council Chambers, Londonderry Municipal Center.

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