Tensions Reach a Boiling Point Over Stonehenge Housing Project

The latest Planning Board meeting got off to a heated start as dozens of residents voiced their outrage over the Council’s business with First Londonderry Association, LLC (FLA).

During the May 3 board meeting, the Moose Hill Council Chamber was packed with members of the community, who came to attend a reconsideration of a March 8 decision against FLA to deny their site plan for a workforce housing rental project on Stonehenge Road.

FLA was using the state’s workforce housing law to develop a series of multi-family housing units on the plot of land. The plans were initially denied by the zoning board due to traffic safety concerns, but the ZBA eventually decided to overturn this decision, which brought it   to the Planning Board in March. The Planning Board initially denied FLA for the same reasons before approving reconsideration at their April 5 meeting.

It is believed by many at the hearing that FLA’s desire to sue the town over the matter is what encouraged the reconsideration vote.

The board first called forward FLA’s representatives, attorneys John Radigan and Steve Pernow, to issue their stance on evidence that led to the initial denial of the site plan, those being a series of pictures that featured a tractor trailer attempting to turn onto Stonehenge Road and fourteen calls to the Police Department in the last couple of months concerning this area.

Pernow noted that he had a traffic study, which addressed concerns over traffic in the area, and that a tractor trailer of that nature would be a rare occurrence.  As for the police record, he stated that only five of the fourteen calls had anything to do with traffic.  Pernow stated that concerning the evidence put forward, “I frankly don’t believe that that’s relevant to the design of the site plan.”

After their argument, the board invited the public to come forward and speak their mind on the issue, so long as what they discussed was focused on the aforementioned evidence brought up before.  Several residents did come forward to speak, one of which being Debra Paul, owner of Nutfield Publishing. During her time on the floor, Paul asked for a copy of the 14 calls, but FLA stated they did not have them.

Paul had also asked in the prior meeting to have the NHDOT come and speak to the residents of the town, who also had many concerns.  She further mentioned that, “These are apartments, of course there will be more trucks, as people will continually be moving in and out.” She also stated that as an abutter, she had never received a certified letter informing her of the initial meeting. Paul further pointed out that there were many missteps in the process, and that a rehearing should be done to rectify this, and furthermore be done correctly.

Shortly after each person began to speak, Board Vice Chair Mary Wing Soares stated that they were speaking off-topic and that they must sit down as a result.  Some residents were less willing to sit down than others, aggressively continuing to state their case as Soares continued to stop them.

The board finally decided to take a vote on the site plan.  Despite board members noting that there were noticeable traffic safety concerns, it was voted 4-3 to approve the site plan for FLA.

Once the new decision was handed down, however, the room erupted in shouts of protest towards the Planning Board as well as the Town Council.

The crowd continued to noisily occupy the hallway afterwards as the board meeting continued.

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