During a Planning Board meeting to review an expansion of the Lorden Commons subdivision, most of the public comment period focused on the water supply for the current residents of the subdivision. Built between 2015 and 2017, phase one of the subdivision was built with wells providing water to homeowners.
However, the expansion of the subdivision for phase two, three and four includes supplying water from Derry by extending a water line along Old Derry Road. This approach was dictated by a hydrology study that showed that the aquifer in the area would struggle to handle the 83 additional homes via wells.
About twenty residents attended the Planning Board meeting asking that the water line be extended to include the existing homes built in phase one. Several phase one residents testified that they have had water quality and pressure issues.
Eric Chinburg, President and CEO, of Chinburg Properties acknowledged that there had been some problems with wells in the past but claimed that his company worked with homeowners to get filtration systems in place.
During public comment Donald Armstrong of 4 Iris Lane spoke saying, “I remember the [Planning] Board here making a strong recommendation [last year] to Chinburg that they address phase one. I’m very disappointed that he didn’t. They didn’t address us. The line is stopping eventually at the cul-de-sac. Its not going the additional two, three, four hundred feet down to supply the [phase one] houses. They chose to go the Derry route versus the Auburn route and run it up our road so that we could get water, so there were options here and I guess the ones that would help us were ignored for financial reasons or other reasons.” Armstrong’s commentary was met with hearty applause.
Jerry Leblanc of 7 Calla Road said, “When Chinburg built the development I assume that they knew they were going to do a phase 2, 3 and 4 when they built my [phase 1] house. I guess, where were the thoughts in the beginning, so that one, two, three and four would have the [public] water?”
Planning Board Chairman Art Rugg replied, “I know the very first conceptual discussion we had which goes back 4-5 years, they were going to run water and that was what the board’s recommendation was. It changed after that. Within the context of state statute and regulation and what we have for our [local] subdivision regulations. So, our hands were tied. We wanted one thing. They did something else and they had that right to go do something else.”
Chinburg was asked what it would cost to extend water to phase 1. He shared that it would cost $1.3M and that it was not economically feasible for Chinburg to bear that cost. Celeste Burke of 14 Iris Lane countered, “I hear you say the cost would be $1.3M. What would have been an acceptable cost to you? And could I be given the option to pay the difference?”
Chinburg replied, “I don’t know the answer to that.” Burke continued,” I think a lot of my fellow neighbors were really just very upset that we have not been given an option.” Chinburg said, “I can tell you that if we do not bring the water to [phase] two, three and four the cost to bring it to your homes would be multiple times more than that, so at least this brings it within the realm of possibility with some sort of warrant article.”
Several times during the meeting, Planning Board members urged Chinburg to work with the phase one homeowners on solutions.
A resident asked the Board if the town could pay to extend the line. They were told that this would be up to the town since the Planning Board does not have the ability to expend funds. Board members suggested that residents reach out to the Town Manager to understand their options.