Legal Counsel Says No Hearing Needed on Woodmont Agreement

Resident Mike Speltz recently wrote a letter to the editor that was published in last week’s Londonderry Times, decrying the fact that no public hearing was held by the Town Council on the Development Agreement between the town and the Woodmont Commons Planned Unit Development (PUD).

“On Aug. 28 the Londonderry Planning Board held a public hearing on the Woodmont Commons Master Plan and the Development Agreement, which can only be approved by the Londonderry Town Council,” Speltz wrote. “Prior to voting, two members expressed concern the public did not have adequate time to review the Development Agreement, since it had only been posted in late August and would be discussed in public one time only.
“The Chair and another member assured all that the Town Council would be conducting a public hearing on the Development Agreement,” his letter continued. “Indeed, the Development Agreement reviewed by the Planning Board that night stated this in writing. The Town Council representative to the Planning Board did not disagree nor comment to the contrary. This created a clear expectation the Town Council would not act before Sept. 16, allowing for public notice and further discussion.”
The public hearing never happened. At its Sept. 9 meeting, the Town voted to approve the Development Agreement under “new business,” and no public hearing on the matter was listed on the agenda.
Planning Board Chairman Arthur Rugg, asked about the discrepancy, said he was in error.
When reached for comment, Town Council Chairman John Farrell said there was no public hearing on the matter because one was not needed.
“We checked with the town attorney and he said that there was no need for a public hearing on the development agreement,” Farrell said.
Town Manager Kevin Smith echoed Farrell’s comments. He said the town’s legal counsel, Atty. Michael Ramsdell, said a hearing was not required because it was a contract before the council for consideration.
“John (Farrell) still asked if there were people in the audience who wanted to comment but he (Farrell) noted that it wasn’t a public hearing,” Smith said.
Smith noted public hearings were held on the matter at the Planning Board level.

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