, Derry, New Hampshire

May 2, 2013

Londonderry zoners grant variances for housing

By Julie Huss

---- — LONDONDERRY — After zoning officials denied a plan for a 240-unit apartment complex on Perkins Road last fall, a developer was granted a rehearing and finally got what he wanted.

Developer Thomas Monahan originally requested three variances for a rental unit project known as Wallace Farm.

Those requests include: a reduction in the percentage of workforce housing units from 75 percent to 50 percent; 24 units per building, eight more than the ordinance allows; and relief from project phasing with regard to the number of units.

Monahan was granted all three requests.

His project is located near Exit 5 off Interstate 93, a location that is ripe for development and economic growth, officials said.

A study prepared by the town’s Community Development Department in 2009 explained the workforce housing laws and what it means to citizens. The study noted Londonderry has the potential for up to 5,000 new jobs in the airport area alone, with a rising need for housing for workers who may move into the area.

Monahan and project engineer Jason Leonard told officials last fall that housing of this type is needed.

Apartments could rent for about $1,100 a month.

“The spirit here is to provide affordable rental housing,” Leonard said. “I believe this is the only rental project proposed in Londonderry for some time.”

Last fall, many Perkins Road residents cited reasons why the housing project would not work.

Resident Brian Micciche told zoners he was not against workforce housing, but this plan was too extreme for that area.

“We have rules and you guys need to set an example for our community,” he said.

Other Perkins Road neighbors said the plan would generate too much traffic and could become a safety issue.

In the end, the board voted, 4-1, to allow phasing of the project to be over a three-year period instead of five. The board voted unanimously to grant a reduction of workforce tenants from 75 percent down to 50 percent and also to grant a variance to allow 24 units per building instead of the required 16.