By Paul Conyers
The Planning Board opened its meeting on, Wednesday, April 17, with the yearly update on the 600 acre parcel in Londonderry known as Woodmont Commons.
“This is an annual experience for us, Woodmont gives us an update,” explained Planning Chair, Arthur Rugg. “They also have to show that they’re also either tax positive or tax negative, if it is tax negative, they owe the town money.”
Rugg added that Woodmont has not been tax negative following any update so far.
The update started with some connection difficulties, Lucy Gallo was online to give a fiscal impact statement. She noted that Woodmont Commons saw a period of growth from 2021 to 2022, with “approximately 229 new residents,” mainly new apartment tenants “as opposed to 179 residents” in the last report.
Regarding property tax revenue from 2021 to 2022, the project “saw $76 million in assessed value and that yielded an annual revenue of $317,000,” according to Gallo. “Based on the findings of this report, there are no amounts due to the town under the terms of the development agreement.” Woodmont remained tax positive for another year, with an expected increase in property tax revenue for the 2022 to 2023 year.
Project consultant and past Town Manager, Kevin Smith, gave a quick update on current plans for Woodmont, having been involved in the complex since its initial approval in 2013.
“Woodmont is a project I’m intimately familiar with,” said Smith as he outlined a few 2023 additions. “The first being Derry Medical Center, which is slated to open in May, and the Baldwin Living Community, which is looking to open the first phase of its project in October.”
The future of Woodmont will include a phase two for both the Baldwin and a second medical office to be leased by a “well-known” medical user. Smith did not reveal the name of the new resident, saying plans would be submitted “very soon.”
Wood Partners is also going through the design review process for the town to build 260 new apartments on the west side of the complex.
Smith also added that Woodmont was “aggressively pursuing” retail and restaurants as demanded by the community. Covid curtailed the initial plan for restaurants at Woodmont in 2020.
Smith pointed out that finding restaurants has been difficult due to staffing funding issues.
Smith also promised to continue with the development of new single-family homes and townhouses north of Pillsbury Road. Currently, the overwhelming majority of the residential building in the complex consists of apartments, with few larger homes. There is no set date on when construction will begin for the homes.
Despite some of the members of the Planning Board being disappointed with the progress happening at the site,
Jason Knights commented, “I’m kind of disappointed. We’re going on ten years now and we keep hearing, ‘We’re almost there, we’re trying.'”
Assistant Town Manager, Kellie Carron, commented that her, the Town Manager, and the town’s Engineering Department have been working daily on looking for ways to provide a number of utilities to that area of town.
Sewer capacity has been a barrier to growth as existing infrastructure struggles to keep up with demand. A recent federal grant is expected to accelerate plans for a sewer expansion.