LONDONDERRY — The developer of the proposed 1,300-home Woodmont Commons project has decided to slow the pace, town officials said.
The Planning Board was scheduled to hold a public hearing on the proposal March 29 and consider accepting the application from Pillsbury Realty Development.
But only minutes after the meeting began, it was over.
The board agreed to accept Pillsbury's request to postpone consideration until May 2.
"My feeling is that they want to move to more open conversations between the developer and town staff before the next meeting," Town Council Chairman John Farrell said.
In addition to 1,300 homes, the company proposes up to 550 hotel rooms and numerous businesses on 630 acres off Pillsbury and Gilcreast Roads. The project would be built over two decades.
Pillsbury Realty bought the former Woodmont Orchards property two years ago for $7 million.
The town received the request from Pillsbury last week. The developer said it wanted to proceed with the slower, more thorough design review process instead of the formal review process, community development director Andre Garron said.
That's one way of making sure concerns about the project and requirements for approval are properly addressed, Garron said.
It also means town officials would spend more time working one on one with the developers, he said.
"I think the desire here is to have more interaction," Garron said. "Once you accept an application as complete, you have 65 days to make a decision on that."
Pillsbury representatives sat at the front of the room as the board accepted the request. Residents quickly streamed out of Town Hall when they learned the public hearing was postponed.
Some people remained after the brief meeting, discussing the project and the delay with other residents. Abutter Jason Phelps of Hovey Road said although the hearing was canceled, he appreciated that Pillsbury doesn't want to rush the project.
"It's a good thing if everyone comes to the table with a better idea," he said. "That would be unfair to argue against that."
While board vice chairman Mary Wing Soares said many residents are looking forward to shopping at the stores, others are afraid the project will radically change their community.
They include Cortland Street resident Jack Falvey.
"No one really wants to be in a construction zone for 10 to 20 years," he said Monday. "This is like the Big Dig — no one wants to live next to it."
The project would create too much traffic, reduce property values, and overburden schools, police and fire departments because of the substantial population increase, he said.
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