Planning Board to Reopen Stonehenge Apartment Project

Mary Wing Soares, acting chairman of the Planning Board, used the saying to explain why the board needed to reconsider its vote on the Residences at MacGregor Cut. The board voted unanimously to revisit the project, which had been rejected in a split vote in the March 8 meeting.

The workforce housing complex is planned for land on Stonehenge Road near the junction of  Hardy Road, and has been the subject of controversy for a number of years.

The plan calls for 12 24-unit buildings with a total of 288 units. First Londonderry Associates LLC are the developers and owners of the property. Residents of Londonderry, both of that neighborhood and beyond, have spoken against the project, citing everything from aesthetics to traffic. The Town Council directed emissaries to offer to buy the property, but First Londonderry refused, and refused other options.

In the March 8 Planning Board meeting an initial vote on the project resulted in a tie. The board re-voted and member Al Sypek changed from a “yes” to a “no” vote.

But in the April 5 meeting, Soares said there were several “procedural errors” in the March meeting, and urged the board to reconsider the issue on May 3.

Soares explained, “If we don’t clean this up, we could face a challenge.”

There were two main issues stemming from the March 8 meeting, according to Soares.

One is that evidence presented to the board was not given to the applicant to review. The evidence in question includes photographs and supporting material provided by Councilor Jim Butler, the Council’s representative to the Planning Board. “The applicant did not have a chance to respond to this material,” Soares said.

The other issue is the vote itself. Soares said she was aware that a tie vote did not stand by itself, and that she should have followed with a motion to declare the project unapproved. “The tie does not actually deny the application,” she explained to her fellow members and a large audience of residents. “We need a specific reason to deny.”

After consultation with the town’s legal team, Soares said, “I should have paused and we should have voted to approve or deny.”

Member Chris Davies observed, “If additional material shows up, it should be open for discussion.”

Soares asked Town Attorney Michael Ramsdell if the board needed to go into nonpublic session and Ramsdell said. no. He added that the board should discuss one of two options: to strike Butler’s material from the record, or to make it available to the applicant for perusal.

“You can’t consider information without giving them a chance to review it,” Ramsdell told the board.

Board member Leitha Reilly said, “We need to limit this to the scope of what was provided at the meeting, the information and photographs Councilor Butler presented.”

The board voted 5-0 to reconsider the application in its May 3 meeting.

 

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