Court Involvement in Proposed Subdivision Raises Tension

The atmosphere was a little tense at last week’s public hearing at the Planning Board on a subdivision plan for a 7.41-acre lot at 8 Alexander Road and Litchfield Road, to  be subdivided into five residential lots.  The owner of the parcel is the Holm Family Revocable Trust, and Edward Hebert Associates, Inc. is the developer and applicant.

Currently the parcel has one dwelling. The plan is for one lot to be carved out for that dwelling, which belongs to Brandon Holm, with the balance of the parcel subdivided into four additional residential lots.

The co-trustees of the Holm estate, Brandon Holm of Londonderry and Blaine Holm of Goffstown, are on opposite sides in this case, in which the owners and the buyer are involved in a dispute that sent the development of the parcel to court.

John Cronin explained that the court ordered Brandon Holm to sign off on the site plan even though he disagrees with it so that it could move forward.

In the far back corner of the Moose Hill Council Chambers at Town Hall stood an armed and uniformed Londonderry police officer. Asked about the officer’s presence, Police Chief William Hart said, “typically the uniform is used to proactively provide deterrent value.” The officer never spoke or moved, and there was no disruption throughout the meeting.

Brandon Holm said at the Wednesday, Oct. 5 meeting that he objected to the site plan, despite having been required to sign off on it by the court, because it requires him to have a well dug, a new driveway built, and a new septic system installed. He said his dwelling is currently on town water, the driveway does not need to be replaced, and the septic system is working perfectly.

Blaine Holm does not object to the site plan and said Brandon has no choice but to do what is being required of him. He said Brandon can do nothing more to stop the plan from moving ahead.

John Trottier, Assistant Director of the Department of Public Works, recommended the Planning Board accept the application as complete. However, he said that review of the Design Review submission for the project, engineering and Design Review Committee comments require revisions to the drainage design and stormwater management plan for the subdivision. While the Design Review Committee comments have been addressed in the plan, the design includes a proposed detention basin and swale to be constructed to accommodate the stormwater runoff generated by the proposed improvements, and a proposed drainage easement has not been provided.

He noted that the lot sizing calculations don’t account for the drainage easements that will be required for the detention basin and thus the staff  “is unable to recommend conditional approval of the proposed plan without confirmation of the drainage easements and demonstration of compliance with the minimum lot sizing criteria.”

Nevertheless, the staff was comfortable with accepting the site plan as presented and starting the 65-day clock. The staff recommended the Planning Board continue the public hearing to Nov. 2.

Planning Board Chair Art Rugg opened the hearing to the board members for their questions and comments. Several were concerned that the site plan calls for the existing dwelling, which is presently served by the Pennichuck Water Company, to have a well for its water supply. It was explained that Pennichuck had been approached to provide water to all five lots but because of the need for easements crossing abutter properties to accomplish that, had declined, necessitating that wells be dug for all five lots.

A couple of board members said they hoped the contentious issues would be resolved and asked if there were any way the town could be impacted. They were assured that could not happen.

Rugg noted the plan had already been to the Heritage Commission and would comply with its wishes regarding the stone walls on the property.

Comments from the public noted the corner of Alexander and Litchfield roads is dangerous and they hoped the improvements being proposed would lead to fewer accidents there.

The plan requested a waiver for the Subdivision Application Checklist that requires topography be shown over all subject parcels. The plan does not provide topography over the western portion of one proposed lot. However, staff recommended granting the waiver as the applicant had provided sufficient required mapping to substantiate a single lot.

The board took action first to approve the waiver and then to continue the public hearing to the Nov. 2 meeting.

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