ATKINSON — The Conservation Commission withdrew their appeal Tuesday of a decision to allow the partial landscaping of a 100-foot buffer zone in the Page Farm development.

The appeal paused the construction of a million-gallon Hampstead Area Water Company tank, part of the Southern New Hampshire Regional Drinking Water Supply Project, because that plan is tied to the Page Farm project.

Conservation Commission Chair Paul Wainwright said in a letter to the Zoning Board of Adjustment Tuesday that the withdrawal stemmed from the tank construction delay. 

"This request in no way diminishes our strong belief that our appeal has merit," Wainwright said in the letter. "We would welcome opportunities in the future to address such issues without feeling the need to use the appeals process."

Midland Investments plans to add seven additional units to the Page Farm development. It asked, and received Planning Board conditional approval, to cut a 100-foot buffer zone in half, in order to landscape the area with shrubs and other trees. 

The Conservation Commission was against the plan to cut the buffer zone, and appealed the Planning Board decision.

"It's been a really tough decision," Wainwright said, about withdrawing the appeal. "The tank is so important for the regional water system. In the end it would have hurt the community in general if we would have proceeded (with the appeal.)"

Wainwright said he hopes withdrawing the appeal will allow the water tank construction to move forward.

"The Conservation Commission feels that it is no accident that the developer has included the tank as part of the same plan to build the seven additional units," Wainwright wrote in an email to ZBA Chair Glenn Saba. "The tank is certainly being used as leverage to help Midland Investments get what they want with the additional units."

Wainwright said although an attempt to split the tank from the Page Farm development project was made, it was unsuccessful.

In his email to Saba, Wainwright said he hopes that by withdrawing the appeal, the Planning Board will separate the plan to allow the tank to be built in case the projects alteration of terrain permit doesn't go through. 

"As you may know, two days after the Planning Board gave conditional approval to the plan, the DES Wetlands Bureau discovered a wetlands issue that may complicate the AOT process," Wainwright wrote. "Since the Conservation Commission strongly supports the entire water project, including the tank, we urge the Planning Board to act in this manner."

According to Planning Board Chair Sue Killam, plans for the Page Farm development and the construction of the water tank are already separate, but tied together. 

She said the appeal did trigger a pause in the tank construction. 

She added that only the applicant can change the plan to satisfy certain rules. 

"The applicant submits an application with planned drawings, and administratively, (the Planning Board) has to make sure that the plan meets all of the rules and regulations in place (regarding) town or state ordinances," Killam said. 

Killam said the unique complication here is the fact that HAWC is trying to build a water tank on a parcel of land Midland Investments owns. Although HAWC has water rights there, Midland Investments was required to sign their application. 

Planning Board member Paul DiMaggio said the "fact that the appeal has been withdrawn is excellent."


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