Zoning Board Denies Water Tower Rehearing

At the Nov. 21 meeting of the Londonderry Zoning Board of Adjustment (ZBA), members reviewed a request for a rehearing regarding a Sept. 18 variance request that had been put forward by Pennichuck East Utility Inc. (PEU) and denied by the board.

In their request for a Zoning Board rehearing however, Pennichuck missed the appropriate filing deadline date which created a problem for the utility’s rehearing plan. 

A variance had originally been requested by Pennichuck to allow a giant – 156 foot in height  – water tank that would be  to be located on Pennichuck property at 7 Rear Gordon Drive, in the shadows of a quiet Londonderry residential neighborhood. The zoning ordinance for that residential area states that building structures must be 35 feet or less in height, so that variance request raised anxiety levels of residents as the giant water tower – if constructed – would present a variety of issues to the neighborhood.

Firstly, residents felt that the enormous infrastructure would create an eyesore if it was to be located in their neighborhood. There were also apprehensions about environmental, as well as health and safety issues – as it might not be a good idea to locate large, weighty infrastructure directly adjacent to wetlands.   

So, the Pennichuck metal tower plan set off strong objections from neighborhood residents and many of the area’s homeowners were at the public hearing in September to implore the ZBA to consider that PEU’s variance request did not meet criteria guidelines. 

With such a water tower in the area, residents might face lifestyle and habitat disruption, possible health issues and a potential decrease in local home and property values. At the initial variance hearing, ZBA members listened to the public arguments and agreed that the project did not meet variance criteria guidelines and denied the variance for PEU.

At the Nov. 21 Zoning Board meeting — that was to review PEUs request for a rehearing — there was again a significant turn out of neighborhood residents who were determined to continue opposition to this project. 

The ZBA member discussion at this meeting was focused on the fact that the application filing by PEU for rehearing was not done properly with respect to meeting the filing deadline set by Londonderry for such an application.

Chairman Dunn said, “I have consulted with Town Counsel about this request by Pennichuck for a rehearing and they concur this application was not properly filed to meet the deadline needed for a review of their request.” 

In the end the rehearing was denied by the ZBA members, since the request was filed too late to meet the appropriate deadline. So there was not any further review and that rehearing request is no longer in the hands of the ZBA to consider. 

Neighborhood residents were relieved by the decision, as they left the meeting, learning that a rehearing to support the giant water tower in their backyards was not going forward at this time. 

From here, the applicant may file an appeal with Rockingham Superior Court within 30 days of the ZBA decision, or they can also start new with an entirely new plan.

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