The developers of Woodmont Commons brought a proposed change to the previously approved Phase 1 plan to the Planning Board for a conceptual review to get their feedback before formally submitting a request to the Board.
They are proposing to replace a two-tier parking structure with a traditional parking lot that would provide the same number of spots, but spread over roughly twice as much area. The switch would also necessitate the elimination of a planned five-unit residential building.
Jeff Kevan of TFMoran said that one reason for the proposed change was to reduce costs, noting that construction costs related to the parking structure are 30% higher than expected. He also said that it would be a challenge to clear snow from the upper level of the structure.
Board members expressed two major concerns about the plan. Just about all the members in attendance and town planning staff felt that the configuration of the parking lot would be challenging for the fire department if they have to bring in large trucks. With the landscape islands and the overall design of the lot, they felt that it would create a serpentine route that would be hard to navigate. They urged a review of the plan by the Londonderry Fire Department staff.
Four Board members felt strongly that the large parking lot was out of step with the overall plan for Woodmont. Member Leith Reilly said that it “looks like the wide expanse of the Shaw’s parking lot.” Chairman Art Rugg said that the proposed design “looks like it could be in Salem. It looks like it could be Manchester, not Londonderry. Kevan responded that the view from the surrounding roads would not change because buildings would surround the parking lot.
In the end Kevan said that he would take the feedback to the architects and developers and also talk to the fire department before coming back to the Board.
Kevan also provided the required annual update to the Board. He said that Garden Way would be reconstructed and re-paved once Comcast and Consolidated Communications moved some of their lines. He noted that the power company had already completed their moves.
He noted that the 603 Brewery construction was well underway. He shared that the brewery hoped to start production in April and open their restaurant and pub in May. Nearby, a combination residential and commercial building is planned for an August/September 2019 opening. The first floor would be retail and the top three floors will be apartments.
Kevan said that work on a subdivision of 28 single family homes along Gilcreast Road would begin in the spring. He also discussed a proposed plan for an elderly housing facility that hopes to break ground next summer. The complex would include independent and assisted living options. It would start with 200 beds with the option to expand to 300 beds in the future.
In response to a question from the Board, Kevan said that he hoped planned improvements to Route 102 related to Woodmont would begin next summer or fall. The start date depends on when the contractor working on the I-93 expansion frees up to work on the Route 102 project.