Town Council Holds Public Hearing on Land Agreement

In an attempt by Londonderry’s town government to avoid worsening traffic concerns as a result of Cross Farm Development, LLC’s work on Adams Road, the public was given a chance to voice their concerns over what the council perceives as a benefit to the town.

Over the past few months, the town has been discussing the purchase a 2.8-acre plot of land off of Route 102 from the Department of Transportation for $361,100. This land abuts property that currently is being planned for an 50-plus retirement community by the Cross Farm group. Once purchased by the town, it would then be sold back to Cross Farm for the exact same price, with the agreement that the company would convert that land into a right-of-way that would connect the community to 102.

According to the council, this is being done to avoid the threat of excess traffic from the community coming onto Adams Road when it is finished being built.

Having already gone before the Conservation Commission twice and the council once before, the council held a special public hearing on June 29 to allow residents to speak out and ask any questions that may have about the agreement. This would serve as the final step in the process before being officially voted on by the council on July 10 and the Planning Board on July 12.

The session itself lasted for roughly two hours, hosting a vast variety of comments from concerned citizens. For starters, resident Deb Paul, owner of the Londonderry Times, felt that the development should move ahead with the project and put the brakes on the 102-part. She also stated that all five points of access should be used. Paul asked that the council keep such factors in consideration when they vote on July 10.

Heritage Commission Chair Martin Srugis also questioned the traffic conditions on Adams Road, but was more concerned about the town’s dealing with real estate and whether or not this may end up setting a precedent for properties in the future. Town Council Chairman Tom Dolan noted that this agreement is “not a precedent-setting activity,” and that it was simply done because of the particular circumstances. Town Manager Kevin Smith added that these actions were taken because of growing traffic concerns in Londonderry, stating that “inaction cost [them] on McGregor Cut.”

Resident D.J. McLaughlin then questioned whether or not there was any sort of contingency plan for the agreement in the event that Cross Farm attempts to back out. This brought forth Town Attorney Mike Ramsdell, who elaborated on a recent amendment to the agreement. It legally guarantees that Cross Farm will use the land for this reason alone and will not oppose being told not to build an entrance onto Cross Road or using an entrance on to Adams Road for anything other than emergency vehicles.

Although there were many who were opposed to some or all of the agreement, some spoke favorably about the situation such as residents Kim Martin, who supported the agreement, and Sandra Lagueux, who admired Dolan’s humility throughout the process. Despite her support, Lagueux also noted that there were two other roads that the community could connect to, such as Constance Drive and Acropolis Avenue, which are on top of Adams Road and Cross Farm.

Regardless of what was told to the council, it should be noted that they do not have the final say on what happens to the Cross Farm’s project. On July 10, they will simply be voting on whether or not they will be offering the Planning Board an additional option for their vote on July 12. In terms of how successful their plan will be if implemented, Dolan stated that “[they’re] not offering a silver bullet,” in that these plans are simply what they saw as the best option available.

The council was appreciative of the turnout from the town, with Dolan noting that “the boards really want to hear your input.” If residents have more concerns over the land purchase, they are encouraged to speak to the Planning Board. Council Member Jim Butler said, “Don’t be afraid to write your state representatives.”

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