Conservation Commission Ponders Land Purchase Costs

By Paul Conyers

The Conservation Commission convened for their Aug. 23 meeting and discussed the possible environmental issues related to upcoming projects in town.
The first issue was in regard to a conversation plan to change a duplex on 9 Button Drive into a condominium. A brief presentation was made on behalf of resident Brenda Kiss outlining what should be a relatively painless process.
Changing the Kiss residence into a condo will ideally be a relatively minor change as several other buildings in the area have already been designated as condos. Essentially, changing the status of the building will have no impact on the environment. Changes to the Kiss residence won unanimous approval by the Commission. There was no debate.
The New Hampshire Department of Transportation is holding a long-awaited public informational meeting for possible changes to a project at the intersection of Route 28 and Stonehenge Road. Members of the public are encouraged to attend with questions at Londonderry Town Hall on September 1, 7 pm.
Commission Chair, Marge Badois, gave a quick overview of the financial situation for conservation. “Things did not change dramatically at the end of last year.” However, some expenses are possible in the near future regarding the proposed acquisition of Lithia Springs.
The Commission has been looking into a land survey before sinking money into the Lithia Springs purchase. The Derry company, Promised Land Survey, was chosen out of three surveyors to do the job.
“We want to know what we’re buying for that kind of money” stated Vice Chair, Eugene Harrington. “The key thing is that it meets the state requirements for a boundary survey.”
Promised Land will not be fully mapping the area. Most of Lithia Springs is on wetlands, and the town does not plan to build any new structures. The $1.5 million proposal is solely for preservation.
The land purchase is not yet finalized, and there were some worries about the possibility of wasting money on an unneeded land survey.
“Should this [land purchase] not happen, we’re paying for things we might not need?” said Commission member, Deborah Lievens. Harrington confirmed, “that is the dilemma that we’re in.”
It was stated that the Town Council will likely vote on the land purchase by Nov. 12, and the Conservation Commission must have all necessary surveys in place by mid-December at the latest. Londonderry also requires several grants to complete the purchase. As of the end of August, only half the money for the land sale is available and without full approval by December. Nobody wants to lose out on external funding.
“Given the fact that we have a very competitive project with these grant programs, I think we should put that money at risk, hopefully, we’ll be able to use it,” Harrington concluded after weighing the risks. The Conservation Commission voted to approve the land survey.
The Commission’s next meeting will be Tuesday, Sept. 13.