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October 11, 2012

Planning Board accepts Woodmont application

LONDONDERRY — The application for Woodmont Commons, an extensive development in Londonderry, has finally been accepted by the Planning Board after eight postponed public hearings.

The application was approved 8-1.

The board met last night, along with Londonderry’s third party review firm, Howard/Stein-Hudson; Michael Ramsdell, the county attorney, and representatives of Pillsbury Realty Development LLC.

The development company purchased about 630 acres of land in 2010 for about $7 million. The proposed development stretches across Pillsbury Road, Gilcreast Road and Interstate 93.

The project is expected to take nearly 20 years to complete, encompassing about 1,300 homes, 550 hotel rooms and additional businesses.

Ted Brovitz, the manager of community planning and design for Howard/Stein Hudson, stressed this was not an in depth analysis of the project, only the application. “This meeting is only about application completion, not technical review,” Brovitz said. He made the recommendation to the board that the application was completed sufficiently for review.

The most recent application was submitted to the board on Oct. 3 and is posted on the town website. Brovitz added he will be sending out memos later in the week to the board and Cynthia May, the town planner, with specific technical questions and concerns.

There was an issue of just how town officials will handle the development and the Planned Unit Development ordinance.

The PUD ordinance, passed in 2010, outlines concerns and regulation for new developments, separate from current land use regulation.

Considering this is the first time town officials are using the PUD, some areas proved to be problematic. John Laferriere, board member and School Board liaison, voted against accepting the application over PUD concerns. Laferriere suggested breaking the review process into multiple sections, review each section at a time.

Ari Pollack, an attorney representing the developer, said the PUD ordinance requires the development to be reviewed as a whole.

Currently, the board has 65 days to review any technical issues with the application, although continuances for the review process may be made, board Chairman Arthur Rugg said.

Some board members felt 65 days would not be enough time to review the development.

“We are willing to work as hard as we can to meet that deadline,” Brovitz said.

The planning board will meet on Nov. 14 to further discuss specific technical questions.

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