Planning Board Continue Hearings on Cross Farm, Citizens Bank Plans

The Planning Board heard presentations for site plan approvals for Phases 2 and 3 of the Cross Farm project and a redevelopment of the Citizens Bank parcel on Route 102. While both were discussed, neither was voted on because parts of each plan were deemed lacking by town planning staff and the Planning Board. Both cases were continued to the Jan. 9 meeting.
The proposal for the 1.7 acre Citizens Bank property at the intersection of Route 102 and Garden Lane, calls for a new Citizens Bank, a ConvenientMD and a retail building ringing an internal parking lot. There would be two entrance/ exit locations along the private way running from Route 102 toward Commons Drive. There would also be a separate exit only lane for customers using the ATM.
As part of the project, at the request of NHDOT, the developer would modify the traffic island at the intersection of Route 102 and the private way to prevent drivers from exiting left onto Route 102.

Since the town’s traffic consultant has not yet reviewed the traffic study, numerous Design Review Comments had not been addressed and it was unclear how a planned temporary bank would operate during construction, town planning staff recommended that the review be continued to the Jan. 9 meeting. The Planning Board agreed.
Representatives of Cross Farm returned to the Planning Board after a number of suggestions for helping to improve traffic safety were raised in the earlier meeting. The developer met with NH DOT to explore some of the suggestions including lowering the speed limit on Route 102 near Cross Farm or installing a flashing light. NH DOT determined that neither suggestion was warranted.
In the Nov. meeting, members of the Board questioned whether assumptions made by the developer’s traffic study about how many of the residents of the planned community would still be working, thus entering and exiting more often than a retired person. The town’s traffic consultant said that studies of five other 55+ developments were added to the Cross Farm study and they all supported the correctness of the initial assumptions.
Cross Farm is seeking two waivers related to Phases 2 and 3. The first would provide relief from the setback requirements of the Route 102 Performance Overlay District. This setback is in place primarily for commercial developments. Cross Farm is willing to meet the 55+ perimeter setback which is more than the standard residential setback.
They are also looking for permission to get building permits for 40 units per year when 15 is the town standard for a subdivision. Town staff pointed out that the Planning Board usually approves such waivers for 55+ developments. In fact, they granted that waiver for phase 1 of Cross Farm. Cross Farm said that they were looking to build faster to minimize the construction disruption for current residents of the development.
While the Board did not formally vote on either waiver during the meeting, their informal comments clearly indicated that they are likely to support both of them when they do eventually vote.
Several residents sent letters to the Board about the project. One expressed support for the Adams Road entrance for Cross Farm in addition to the Route 102 entrance citing the option to more safely use the Adams Road exit during high traffic periods on Route 102.
Two other residents sent letters opposing the project, citing concerns about traffic safety and the potential impact of the wells in the development putting a strain on the local water supply.
At the suggestion of the town planning staff, the review of the project was continued to January 9 to provide responses on engineering-related questions and feedback from town planning staff.

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