Conservation Commission Has Concerns with Cross Farm Project

The Londonderry Conservation Commission members questioned how suitable the parcel off Adams Road is for the development of an elderly housing community at the Aug. 22 Conservation Commission meeting after Jack Szemplinski, Jack Kalantzakos, and Rich Welch, representatives from Cross Farm Development, LLC, approached the commission with the idea of making some of the parking lots in their senior living development plan with permeable pavement.

Though the developers will still provide the detention areas required by the town, permeable pavement would allow water to be absorbed into the ground and help contain runoff, according to Szemplinski. The proposed parking lot to be used would be the lower parking lot of one of the main buildings; the upper parking lot would be regular pavement because there would likely be more traffic than the lower; the lower parking lot will “hopefully be used very sparingly in winter,” thus prolonging the live of the pavement and making permeable pavement a viable option.

There was some discussion about the different recreation areas surrounding the clubhouse, such as the bocce court and putting green, and how they can be better constructed as to also help absorb some water during the wettest times of the years, such as spring and winter. Currently, the bocce court’s base is planned to be made out of concrete and turf, therefore impervious to the absorption of water.

Kalantzakos stated that they wanted to build all the recreation areas as maintenance free as possible, but the bocce court could also have a clam shell base with turf over it, allowing for better water absorption. Szemplinski said that though the bocce court is set to drain in the rain garden as of now, they could make provisions to grade the bocce court to also allow for better water absorption.

After more discussion about gradation and water, Commission member Mike Byerly asked if the developers had done anything with the Commission’s previous recommendation to move the clubhouse somewhere else on the property. In response, Kalantzakos explained that this issue had been talked about “in great length” and that where the clubhouse is currently is the best spot for marketing purposes – even if they were to move the clubhouse, there would still need to be grading done in this area that would disturb the land.

Commission member Deborah Lievens said that she felt they “picked the wrong piece of property for the project” because the wetland will be disturbed no matter what.

In response, Szemplinski noted the flat nature of the land, and that the only place to run off attenuation systems (systems that store and slowly release surface water runoff) is close to the wetlands, always resulting in detention ponds.

Commission member Michael Speltz agreed with Lievens that this land is not suitable for this particular project, and thought the land would be best suited for open space though that idea is no longer an option.

Speltz went on to explain that if the Planning Board were to approve this plan as the developers have proposed pervious pavement and pervious services under the recreation facilities would be helpful.

Byerly agreed, saying these ideas were “a step in the right direction.”

Commission Vice Chair Eugene Harrington also suggested that a retaining wall, to try to keep as much grading out of the buffer a possible, would be an improvement and the wall would also serve as a clearer demarcation as to where the edge of the buffer is.

Speltz motioned that the applicant’s improvements to the site plan include using pervious pavements, a retaining wall and pervious recreation courts, and stated that the Commission continues to believe that putting the clubhouse in its proposed location is “primarily for economic reasons.” Should the Planning Board approve the plan as presented, the Commission recommends implementing the improvements as a condition of approval.

The motion passed, 7-0-0.

After the vote was over, Kalantzakos told the Commission that the developers had met with an abutter who suggested they ask if the Commission wished to purchase some land from the project in order to protect the natural resources on the property. He stated that the developers would be open to conversing about a possible transaction regarding the land.

Commission Chair Marge Badois said it would depend on if the land they would purchase is unbuildable or would limit the development. Speltz stated the Commission would be interested, but the Town Council, as he understands it, wishes to limit the development, so it would depend on whether or not the town council would support the idea.

At the end of the conversation, Speltz asked for Szemplinski’s card and said they would be in touch.

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