Residential Element Denied for Village Plan Near Airport

By Paul Conyers

The Zoning Board of Adjustment (ZBA) reviewed several requests for variances on a number of properties in the industrial area of Londonderry for a large “village-like” live-work-play community located at 104 Grenier Field Road, 6 Akira Way, 5 Kitty Hawk Landing, and 52 Grenier Field Road at their Wednesday night, June 21 meeting. After about two-hours of debate on the subject, members ultimately denied the variances needed to put residential units in the plan.
Ken Selensky of Londonderry Holdings, LLC represented the developer at the meeting to make a presentation why the variances are needed.
“We are now proposing to develop what we call the Village of Technology Hill, in the vicinity of where Technology Drive was located,” said Selensky. “The Village would encompass a minimum of two industrial buildings, which would bring over 1,100 high-tech jobs to the area, jobs that would pay above the average earnings in southern New Hampshire. We are also proposing housing for our workers.”
Envision Technology would produce electro-optical equipment at the facility, along with Onpoint Systems and its SpotOn GPS collars. The construction area will take up around 75 acres on five parcels of hilly land. The proposal also includes retail space, such as a 15,000 sq. foot general store and a daycare center for families.
Londonderry Holdings also promised to “maximize green-space” with walkability as a focus in their plan.
Although he praised the advantages new jobs might bring to Londonderry, Alternate Board member, Robert Robicsek, was concerned by the sheer size of the proposal.
“This is a very large development, over 300 units of housing with a master plan the size of Pullman in Chicago, has this been reviewed by the Planning Department?” Robicsek noted that such a development would inevitably impact the “needs of public safety: fire, police, educational, traffic…there’s a lot at stake, there’s a lot of potential stress to our community.”
None of these questions were new to the plan, which has been in development for the past few months.
Public response to the proposal was mixed, with many attendees expressing their support.
Former Town Manager, Kevin Smith of 6 King Philip Drive, expressed his “strong support” for what he called a “creative and well-designed project” while encouraging the Zoning Board to approve more mixed-use developments.
Saying that it is a project that is very much needed. He also mentioned that the zoning currently in place in this area is out-dated.
Another resident said it was a very good use of the land. “I have direct experience in what is being proposed and I can tell you, the model works,” said Tony Nigro of 6 Deer Crossing Circle. “This is a site that makes the best of the environment, reduces impact, and from my perspective, it is a great part of the town for being able to support something like this, I could go on, but I’m in favor.”
There were also members of the public opposed to the large development in an industrial zone.
Longtime resident from Merrill Farm, Bob Merrill, who lives just down the street, and whose property abuts some of the site, was mainly opposed to the residential part of the plan. He suggested that the town have a workshop between all the boards in town to discuss the merits of the 340 units of residential housing there.
Another worried abutter, Charles Frank, had concerns as to whether it was considered spot zoning and he was told that the zoning wouldn’t be changed.
He was very concerned with where the children living in that site would go in the area, saying that with nothing put warehouses in the area would be dangerous.
He added, “Putting apartments here, I think it’s going to be a hindrance to my property, and over time, I think it’s going to create a depreciation of property value.” He also argued that roads would not handle the increased traffic, especially during winter months.
Daniel Bouchard was also concerned for the families that would be moving into the property, bringing up the fact that living near an industrial area opens up a number health and safety issues.
ZBA Chair, Jacqueline Benard, noted traffic concerns would need to be addressed by the Planning Board, not zoning.
After some debate by the Zoning Board, members voted to deny the request to move forward with the residential plans by a vote of three to two.
The board was mostly concerned with the safety of the residents that would be living there.

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