DerryNews.com, Derry, New Hampshire

April 4, 2013

Woodmont Commons discussion begins again

By Julie Huss
jhuss@derrynews.com

---- — LONDONDERRY — The waiting is over for anyone seeking updated information on the Woodmont Commons project.

Proponents of the 634-acre Woodmont Commons development plan appeared before the Planning Board March 27 after numerous public hearing delays, postponements and continuations. The plan application was officially approved in October.

Representatives said they are ready to jump back into the process to get Woodmont moving forward.

The mammoth project would bring thousands of homes, retail spaces, offices and medical facilities tot an area off Pillsbury and Gilcreast roads.

Residents have waited months to weigh in on the development plan, but delay has followed delay.

The project is proposed by Michael Kettenbach and Pillsbury Realty Development. Pillsbury purchased the Woodmont Orchards property two years ago for $7 million.

The project, as proposed, would be completed in phases over 20 years.

All parties involved say the project is complicated and will take time to review.

The vision to create Woodmont began in 1997 when Londonderry’s master plan included the possibility of creating a new village concept in town, combining businesses, streetscapes, gardens, community centers, hotels and homes.

In the years to follow, the town passed its Planned Urban Development ordinance, outlining regulations for new developments that are separate from current land use rules. Woodmont Commons is the first project to use the PUD ordinance.

A five-day design charrette took place in June 2010. That included state, regional and local officials, all gathering to discuss what Woodmont’s development might mean for the town.

Months of meetings followed between planners and the project developers.

Planned public hearings were delayed as attorneys, developers and other consultants worked to get information updated and in order prior to having more public input at last week’s hearing.

Residents have had many concerns about Woodmont, mostly dealing with traffic impact and how Londonderry’s rural character will be preserved.

Anne Chiampa has been outspoken about Woodmont.

“I hope the developers add a little more of Londonderry in it,” she said. “I hope there is a melding of Londonderry’s character and modern conveniences they are planning for residents in the area. I’m looking forward to seeing what ends up coming here.”

Deb Nowicki told planning officials she hoped Woodmont would offer a happy medium and integrate modern with traditional.

“Londonderry is a lot of farms and conservation land,” she said. “My concerns are about old Londonderry and the new Londonderry.”

Planning Board Chairman Arthur Rugg said it’s finally time to get more Woodmont questions answered.

“We’re getting into the meat of the Woodmont stuff with quite a few details,” Rugg said.

The town website offers a detailed Woodmont Commons PUD page for anyone wishing to learn more about the project. The page is located on the town site through the Planning Board page at londonderrynh.org. It lists all project plans, images and other information.

Planning Board members will continue Woodmont discussions at their meeting April 10 at 7 p.m. in Moose Hill Council Chambers at the town complex.