Planning Board Approves Site Plan for Wine Bistro

The Planning Board unanimously approved the site plan for the proposed construction of Cabonnay Wine House Bistro on Mohawk Drive.

“We hope to do Londonderry proud with this project and hope when it’s complete you will see this is something that has been lacking,” owner Cornelis de Jong told the Board at its Nov. 4 meeting.

The Windham developer plans to transform the properties at 6 and 8 Mohawk Drive into what he termed a “restful oasis,” where patrons will enjoy fine wine, small bites, art and upscale gardens.

The site plan calls for construction of a 34-foot-tall, two-story colonial-style structure with a grand entrance featuring a high balcony, French doors and colonnades of stacked granite with copper roofing.

De Jong told the Board he plans to use high-quality materials in neutral colors that are consistent with materials used in residential construction.

The main room on the first floor of the bistro, which will accommodate most of the venue’s seating, will have vaulted ceilings.

“It will feel like the lobby area of a fine hotel, with couches, chairs and tables,” said engineer Earle Blatchford of Haynor Swanson Inc. in Nashua.

The first floor is also to feature a tasting room with a small kitchen, and a partial basement will serve as a wine cellar and storage.

On the second floor, Cabonnay will house an art gallery and limited seating, with a mezzanine running on either side.

In total, the bistro will accommodate 60 seats.

Recently, de Jong opened a gift shop on the first floor of the existing building on the property, which also serves as his office.

Outside the bistro, crews have been working to clean up the site, preserving as many trees as possible, according to de Jong.

“The purpose of this project is to rejuvenate and restore, and bring something beautiful to town,” he said.

A rock wall on the property is to be restored and enhanced, and an extended fence will run along the southern and westerly easement on the site.

“I was very adamant about preserving the tree lines,” de Jong said. “What makes this project unique is we are working with a very difficult lot and we’re trying to keep it largely undisturbed. The fencing will be installed where it best fits the land.”

Sharon Reed of 77 Granite St., the closest abutter to the bistro, said she appreciated the fact the fence would be installed where it would require the least amount of cutting of vegetation.

She did, however, express concern for how construction on the site would affect traffic on Mohawk Drive, particularly in the morning when the children in the condominiums are headed off to school.

Blatchford said construction is generally limited to business hours, and the contractors are in contact with the Police Department when their operations will interfere with traffic.

Throughout the planning process abutters also expressed concern the new bistro would compromise their privacy, given its proximity to the condominiums.

Reed said the building will be less than 100 feet from her bedroom window.

Member Ann Chiampa asked if the windows on the rear of the building, facing the condominiums, will be used while the bistro is operating, expressing a concern that doing so would create a noise issue for neighbors.

De Jong said in addition to being frosted, the windows will remain closed.

Additionally, Blatchford noted the bistro is not expected to generate noise levels.

“This will be a quiet establishment, with quiet music and art on display,” he said.

“The windows are for safety purposes, and should be closed at all times. I believe it’s a health code violation to have large open windows during dining service,” de Jong said. “When I brought this plan back in January as a concept, I from day one said this would be an upscale, elegant bistro – a restful oasis environment where people can take a moment and rejuvenate themselves. I have not wavered from that one bit and I intend to deliver on that.”

De Jong is hoping to celebrate a spring opening.

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