Wildlife Survey Agreement Adds to Cost of Pettengill Road Project

A wildlife study agreed to between the state and the Town of Londonderry in 2009 – but never performed – has resurfaced, now that FedEx is planning to build in the Pettengill Road area.

Conservation Commission member Mike Speltz said the commission only learned about the agreement between the New Hampshire Department of Fish and Game and the Town of Londonderry after recommending to the Planning Board approval of the FedEx conditional use permit.

The agreement calls for a wildlife study of the proposed Pettengill Road location prior to the road’s being built.

FedEx is planning to build a 300,000-square-foot distribution center at the intersection of Industrial Drive and Pettengill Road.

Speltz notified the Planning Board at its March 5 meeting about the wildlife study agreement, and Assistant Public Works Director John Trottier responded that the agreement was for the Pettengill Road construction area, not the abutting area where the FedEx development is planned.

At the Tuesday, March 11 Conservation Commission meeting, Speltz explained the situation to fellow commissioners.

“At our last meeting, we considered their (FedEx) site plan and we basically approved it,” he said, noting that after the meeting, chairman Deb Lievens was notified of the wildlife study agreement by someone at Fish and Game. Speltz said that aside from a lack of funding, the town is ready to build Pettengill Road.

“They have their plans and the permits but as a condition of that permit, the New Hampshire Fish and Game asked – and the town agreed in a memo signed by (Public Works Director Janusz Czyzowski) and (former planning director Andre Garron) in 2009 – to conduct a wildlife survey of about five parcels of land that constitutes pretty much all of the large parcels that are strung along the proposed Pettengill Road to the intersection of Perimeter Road, about 500 to 600 acres of land,” Speltz said.

He said Fish and Game has concerns about the town’s building there because the proposed road crosses Little Cohas Brook, where endangered species are present.

Czyzowski said, however, that the FedEx site is not part of the Pettengill Road wildlife study agreement.

“That agreement is for when the construction of the road begins, which it is not funded yet,” he said this week. “The town would have to raise the $4 million for the road and the money for the sewer interceptor first, and we haven’t. So until Pettengill Road is funded, there is no road and we don’t have to do the study until then.”

Czyzowski said there is nothing stopping New Hampshire Fish and Game from requesting the developer of the FedEx site to conduct its own study when applying for its Alteration of Terrain permit, “but that is not part of the wildlife study agreement that is in place.”

According to an Aug. 21, 2009 letter addressed to Czyzowski from Mike Marchand, New Hampshire Fish and Game wildlife biologist with the Endangered Species Program, the rare species database check identified eight species within the vicinity of the proposed sewer interceptor project and proposed Pettengill Road.

“Species identified include Bald eagle (state threatened), banded sunfish, Eastern hognose snake (state endangered), New England cottontail (state endangered, federal candidate), Northern black racer (state threatened), spotted turtle (state threatened), upland sandpiper (state endangered), and Longleaved Bluets (state endangered plant). In addition, Blanding’s turtle (state endangered) and wood turtle (special concern) have been documented in Londonderry and suitable habitat may occur in the study area.

“Eastern hognose snakes require a combination of both wetlands and undeveloped terrestrial habitat and are vulnerable to habitat loss and fragmentation primarily associated with commercial and residential development (New Hampshire Wildlife Action Plan Species Profile for hognose snakes),” Marchand wrote in the 2009 letter. “In addition, roadways and other paved surfaces can result in direct mortality to individual snakes and may lead to a reduction in the local population’s ability to persist.”

The area in question in the letter is specified as “1000 acre commercially zoned properties in Londonderry bounded by Manchester Airport to the north, Harvey Road to the east, Litchfield Road to the south, and Brown Avenue and associated developments to the west (collectively referred to as ‘study area’).”

The letter concludes, “intense development of lands described above will likely have impacts on state protected natural resources (RSA 212-A). Therefore it is critical that (New Hampshire Fish and Game) be involved in early pre-permitting discussions regarding avoiding and minimizing these impacts.”

Speltz said the idea was to survey the whole area, identify valuable habitat, and as all of the plots are developed, a builder can be notified up front where to steer clear.

He said that because of lack of funding, the road hasn’t been built, but now the situation exists that a parcel is to be built on an accepted site plan without the benefit of the “broad view as to where the connectivity is with the endangered species.”

In addition to Garron and Czyzowski, Marchand copied the letter to Michael Leach of Stantec consulting engineers, Department of Environmental Services Wetlands Bureau staffers, the Alteration of Terrain Program, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, the Natural Heritage Bureau, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, and the Endangered Species coordinator at New Hampshire Fish & Game.

Speltz said that in order to proceed, FedEx must obtain an alteration of terrain permit, which New Hampshire Fish and Game would have to provide.

For details of the agreement for the survey, see related story Wildlife Study Required.

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