Londonderry Developer Seeks Appeal Over Stonehenge Denial

A local housing developer is seeking to appeal a recent dismissal of their plans to build a large housing rental project.

First Londonderry Associates LLC is  fighting back against the local planning board which, at the board March 8th meeting, denied FLA’s plans to put together a 288 unit housing project, and their main concern stems from their belief that some board members acted “unlawful and unreasonable” when they voted down FLA’s request.

The FLA asserts that board members Ted Combes and Al Sypek voted down the measure for personal gain, with their appeal stating “That upon information and belief, at the March 8, 2017, planning board meeting, member Sypek and alternate Combes, both of whom were running for seats on the Town Council, were reported to have commented to the effect that their votes against the application likely earned them 600 votes in the upcoming council race”.

FLA submitted its design application to the planning board back in November 2015 and then sent out a site plan nearly a year later, which would place residences at MacGregor Cut off of Stonehenge and Hardy roads.  It was denied approval initially by a 3-3 tie.

FLA’s appeal also focused on traffic management at the intersection of Stonehenge Road and Route 28, stating that there was a “unanimous conclusion of the applicant’s and the town’s traffic engineers, town police, fire, planning engineering and DPW and NHDOT that the mitigation measures that they support as proposed by the applicant are reasonable and offer improvements beyond the applicant’s traffic impacts.”

The appeal claims the board voted a second time without a proper motion, this time leading to a 4-2 vote against the FLA, with Sypek changing his vote from yes to no and Combes voting no both times.

According to the minutes of the March 20th Town Council meeting, Sypek did make some off-hand comments after the meeting, stating that Combes told him he probably had 600 votes for his re-election, with Sypek then saying that Combes most likely had the same amount because of changing his vote on the proposal.  They also claimed that Combes told Sypek that “with your change of vote, you just got more popular and earned yourself votes for Town Council.” Combes, however, was quick to deny these statements, claiming he never changed his vote to gain more support in his re-election or openly said that he did.

The planning department stated after the denial that they voted against FLA’s request because of the potential safety concerns the project would pose to the area which was already suffering from other traffic problems.  They were unconvinced that the project would mitigate safety concerns in that location or the surrounding area.

As for the appeal, town councilors concluded on March 20th that there was not enough evidence to show that either Sypek or Combes had committed any sort of ethics violations.  Sypek lost his election on March 21st, but Combes did manage to win one of two open council seats.

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