Developer Will Take New Tact at Zoning Change of Historic Property

On Wednesday Aug. 15 the Londonderry Zoning Board of Adjustments will once again hear from Richard Flier and his company CC Properties as he tries to find a way to have the town grant him permission to allow a  Merrimack Credit Union location on his property at 2 Litchfield Road.

This time Flier and his lawyers are requesting a variance from the Londonderry Zoning Ordinance 2.2 Use Table to allow the use of a financial institution, smaller than 3,000 SF, in the C-III district, at Two Litchfield Road, Map 12, Lot 68, which is Zoned C-III and in the Historic Overlay District.

The historic property was given a Historic Preservation Easement to protect it back in 2006 when the previous owners, being concerned with preserving this site, were allowed by the Town Council to convert it from an AR-1 to a C-III zone.

The Aug. 15 Zoning Board meeting will be Flier’s fourth attempt to have the town allow the Credit Union to occupy the property.

Durning the months of Jan. and Feb., Flier had hearings at the ZBA for a variance to allow a financial institution, with a drive through, on the property. That request was denied.

The request was appealed by the developer, and once again denied.

More recently, during the Planning Board meeting on Wednesday, July 11, the group had a public hearing for the applicant CC Properties, requesting a zoning3 amendment to amend the Londonderry Zoning Ordinance, Section 2.2 to allow a financial institution, not exceed 5,000 square feet, with a single drive-through window, to be allowed in the C-III district.

This request was not only for the property at 2 Litchfield Road, but all C-III properties in town.

At the meeting Town Planner, Colleen Mailloux, explained that while it was a specific request, it relates “To all properties within the C-III district and adding this use within all those properties.” The board may not delegate zoning to any one plot or area, and an amendment applies across all C-III districts.

Flier, and therefore CC Properties, LLC, expressed intent to build a new building next to the historic building to accommodate potential renter Merrimack Federal Credit Union, who also possesses the mortgage on the property.”

Mailloux also explained that, “The C-III district was primarily intended for light business, professional and office uses only, and drafting the zone was intended to provide a transitional or buffer zone between the larger, more intense commercial uses, and the residential zone.”

Also at that time, Flier explained that the addition of a drive-through was a must. “If we were to put Merrimack Credit Union inside of the building,” he said, “We would have to gut a good part of it, to make the building functional.”

The board had a number of concerns, yet the members’ discussion heavily focused on the aspect of the drive-through.

“I see a particular use driving this decision, and what happens when that use is no longer a viable institution?” Asked board member Leitha Reilly. “Then we’re stuck with a drive-through. I don’t think a drive-through is appropriate in a residential area.”

During that Planning Board meeting, Town Council member Jim Butler was the only voting member supporting the idea.

Additionally, Ann Chiampa, a Planning Board member who addressed the board as a member of the public, having stepped down from the board, brought to members attention the importance of Ordinance 2006-3, an amendment to the zoning ordinance relating to rezoning map 12, lot 68, which is where this property is located.

The ordinance includes the following conditions: 1. The Town shall receive a historic preservation easement and historic preservation facade easement from the property owner requiring that the exterior of the historic structures be maintained in their current state, not to be altered, demolished or added to. 2. That the specific use of the property be restricted to residential and office space. 3. That no additional structures be placed upon the property unless required by the site plan regulations (i.e. drainage structures, etc…) or to accommodate utilities, all not in detriment to the historic character of the building. And 4. That no retail operations are allowed at that location.

The document was signed by Brian Farmer, the chairman of the Town Council and the Town Clerk on May 1, 2006.

By the end of the public hearing, the request was not recommended by the planning board, and was supposed to move to the Town Council this month, but Flier and his team changed their strategy and are now looking for the zoning change at the Zoning Board next week.