LONDONDERRY — The Planning Board will decide Thursday if the proposed 1,300-home Woodmont Commons development can move forward.
It also will be a chance for residents to comment on a major residential and commercial project some are worried will drastically change the town they know and love.
The Planning Board public hearing begins at 7 p.m. at Town Hall.
"This seems a bit drastic and too much, too soon," Devonshire Lane resident Raymond Adams said. "It's going to have some serious ramifications."
The proposal also calls for up to 550 hotel rooms and numerous businesses to be built off Pillsbury and Gilcreast Roads. If approved, the project would encompass approximately 630 acres and be completed over two decades.
The project is proposed by Michael Kettenbach and Pillsbury Realty Development. Pillsbury purchased the Woodmont Orchards property two years ago for $7 million.
Cortland Street resident Jack Falvey, Adams and others are concerned they will no longer recognize the community they have lived in for years.
"Essentially, this is one man's plan to change the town radically," Falvey said. "It's a conceptual plan with many loose ends."
The proposal would transform agricultural property into an urban area with major traffic congestion, Falvey said. Local schools and the police and fire departments would become overwhelmed, he said.
Residents would see their property values plummet, according to Falvey.
"No one really wants to be in a construction zone for 10 to 20 years," he said. "This is like the Big Dig — no one wants to live next to it."
But the public will only be allowed to comment Thursday on whether Pillsbury has met the criteria to submit its master plan, community development director Andre Garron said.
The board will consider the recommendation of its consultant, Howard/Stein-Hudson Associates of Boston, Garron said.
If the board rejects the application, the town would work with Pillsbury as it tries to fulfill the criteria, Garron said.
If the application is approved, the board has 65 days to make a decision on the master plan, vice chairman Mary Wing Soares said.
While there are vocal opponents of the project, Soares said there are many supporters as well.
"I'm hearing as many positives as there are concerns," she said. "There are some saying, 'Hurry up,' and there are other people, saying, 'Slow this down.'"
Some people have told Soares they are looking forward to walking to the shops that are proposed, she said.
Falvey and Adams said they are not opposed to development, just the project's scope.
"It's going to increase the population by roughly 20 percent," Adams said. "They are just totally wiping out this beautiful apple orchard and replacing it with this development."
No one from Pillsbury could be reached for comment yesterday.
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