Chairman Expresses Concern About Stonehenge Project

The Residences at MacGregor Cut will receive closer scrutiny from the Town Council and Town Manager, after Chairman John Farrell initiated a discussion in the Dec. 19 Council meeting.

Approval of The Residences at MacGregor Cut, a proposed apartment complex near the junction of Stonehenge and Hardy roads, was postponed after both residents and board members in the Dec. 7 Planning Board meeting expressed concern about traffic, aesthetics and general quality of life in the area.

The complex would include 12 24-unit buildings, for a total of 288 units, along with a clubhouse, pool and shelter for school children waiting for the bus. The complex will be 50 percent workforce housing, with the other 50 percent at regular market rate. The project is being developed for First Londonderry Association LLC and is planned for 65 acres off Stonehenge Road.

In the public comment portion of the Dec. 19 meeting, Farrell read a letter outlining his concerns.

Farrell wrote that when he first interviewed for the Planning Board in 1999, it was in honor of his late father, who had held a similar position in their home town. “I wanted to follow what he had done to help protect the community and shape its future,” Farrell wrote, adding, “The real question was what kind of Londonderry we want. While change may come, it needs to be managed.”

Farrell reminded the board and television audience that New Hampshire is under “Dillon rule,” which means the town is not allowed to create laws that are stronger than the state RSAs.

When the state mandated workforce housing seven or eight years ago, Farrell wrote, Londonderry was forced to adopt ordinances at the local level. The first ordinance they drafted was challenged by several abutters, denied by the Town Council and sent back to the Planning Board. The Planning Board drafted a second ordinance which did not meet the state requirements, and was overturned as “unenforceable,” Farrell wrote.

The current Town Council worked with the Planning Board and the town now has a workable and enforceable ordinance, but the “barn door” was already opened, according to Farrell. He repeated his question, “What kind of Londonderry do we want?”

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.”

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.

In public comment, resident Martin Srugis said, “I don’t live there, but I drive through there all the time. The project is not suitable for an AR-1 (agricultural-residential) zone.”

The Wallace Farms subdivision was different, Srugis said, because it has a quick turn-out to Route 28. But the feeder roads to Stonehenge and Hardy, along with the two roads themselves, are already overloaded, he pointed out.

Another issue is school buses, Srugis said. The bus would have to stop on the right, and children from the complex would have to cross an already-busy road.

The board agreed by consensus to direct Smith to work with Ramsdell to uncover the options.

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