Conservation Comments on Developments on Route 102

Developers of the Cross Farm project on Route 102 came to the Conservation Commission on Aug. 28 to discuss their dredge & fill application with the state and to provide updates on conversations with the state Department of Environmental Services (DES) about parts of the property that will be permanently conserved.

Conservation commissions do not approve dredge & fill applications, rather they review then and provide comments to DES which approves or denies the application. A dredge & fill permit is required for excavation in or adjacent to bodies of water including wetlands.

Cross Farm’s dredge & fill application covers the five remaining phases of the proposed development. Phase one is under construction and site plans for phase 2 are currently under review by the town.

Cross Farm is seeking approval to fill in approximately 4,500 sq. ft. of wetlands on the development site to allow roadways to cross over these areas. In addition, the developer was required by DES to enlarge one of their planned detention ponds to prevent too much runoff water from flowing on to an adjacent property.

As part of the project approval DES negotiated with the developers to require that three ecologically sensitive parts of the property be protected with conservation deed restrictions. These parts of the property make up the bulk of the 81 acres on the property planned as open space.

According to the developer, the protected area in the northeast part of the property will be totally restricted with no disturbance allowed, including keeping people out. This area is a habitat for endangered turtles.

A finger of land running through the center of the property will be protected from development and passive recreation will be allowed. A parcel in the northeast section that is a good habitat for rabbits will also be protected, most likely with no disturbance allowed, although that has not been finalized.

Both DES and the town will hold enforcement rights on the easements. In addition, part of the easement is the requirement for a 50-foot buffer around the wet areas. This led to the developer shrinking the size of some proposed houses to keep them out of the buffer.

The Commission noted that in some cases, houses will have only 12-15 feet of backyard. Some members expressed concern that this development could face similar issues to what arose at the Nevins. In that development, some units had very little backyard and led to confusion and some homeowners encroaching into protected areas.

The Cross Farm developer, who also built the Nevins, insisted that buyers would be clearly informed about the size of their yards.

In addition, signs marking the edge of the conservation buffer would be installed before any development on new phases begins to make sure that construction vehicles avoid going into the buffers.

Another development, this one a combined condo and retail project also on Route 102 was also presented to the Commission. Representatives of CM-Londonderry LLC shared an early conceptual plan for a 10.3-acre property abutting Pasquale’s Ristorante and All America Assisted Living and near the Woodland Village condo complex.

The developer will be asking DES for a dredge & fill application for impact of .11 acres wetland to put in a driveway that leads to the 14 condos in the back part of the property. In addition, the project would encroach almost .70 acres of the Londonderry Conservation Overlay District.

Member Mike Byerly asked if the parking for the development could be combined with that for Pasquale’s to reduce the overall footprint of impervious surface. The developer doubted that this would be possible because they felt that Pasquale’s did not have enough parking as it is now.

Member Mike Speltz gave feedback that he would like to see the size of the buildings reduced to avoid encroaching the conservation buffers. Byerly added that it seemed likely that the project would require a Conditional Use Permit from the Planning Board.

He felt that if that were the case, that he would not support granting one on the basis that the sole reason for the project to encroach the conservation buffer and wetlands was to give an economic advantage to the developer.

Newsletter Updates

Enter your email address below and subscribe to our newsletter