, Derry, New Hampshire

March 27, 2014

Londonderry councilors table trails talk

By Julie Huss

---- — LONDONDERRY — Town councilors continue to ponder what to do about the possible removal of a public walking trail from a local residential community’s development map.

Councilors tabled a discussion on a proposed release from public servitude of a walking trail originally planned on land in the Nevins community off Mercury Drive.

Nevins’ homeowners approached councilors last year about removing the trail from their property plan. The trail plan was put in place prior to the construction of the housing development.

There are about 135 homeowners in the Nevins community. Homes are detached and are for older residents.

When the development was planned a decade ago, the Planning Board approved putting walking trails around the perimeter of the property for both residents and the public to enjoy.

Attorney Morgan Hollis once again appeared before the council at a meeting March 20 and spoke on behalf of Nevins residents. He said people living there have concerns.

Residents petitioned the town to release its rights to the walking trail easement. That would release the public right to use any trails put in place.

Some residents said their homes were built after the trail easement was put on the plan. Portions of the planned trail often fall only 15 to 20 feet from buildings.

“Three units have encroached on the easement itself,” Hollis said.

Having any public use of the planned trails would be a bit too close for comfort for those Nevins residents, he said.

The Nevins trail story has a long history.

When the development was first planned, it almost became a family subdivision, not one for older residents.

The trails were put on the map to serve not only the people who eventually would buy homes there, but also to support the town’s mission to make Londonderry a walking community with many trails and plenty of open space.

“When this plan was approved, we were dropping walking trails in everywhere,” Town Councilor John Farrell said.

The plan changed when the town decided it didn’t want a family-oriented development there that would flood a then-stressed school system and overburden town services.

In order to appease developer Elmer Pease, voters approved spending $2.9 million to support making Nevins smaller, with open space and for older citizens. Pease is no longer associated with the project, but the trail on the map remains.

But homes were built too close to easement areas and potential trails could wind very close to buildings.

Councilors tabled any action on the trail issue until a meeting April 7. They will consult with the town attorney for more information.

“We will then answer questions before us and hopefully have a vote,” Farrell said.