, Derry, New Hampshire

September 20, 2012

Londonderry master plan update going well

By James Niedzinski

---- — LONDONDERRY — There were some big changes proposed during a recent Planning Board meeting.

Town Planning and Urban Development Collaborative was hired by the town to give an overview of the new master plan. Representatives presented their findings last week.

The master plan was last updated in 2004. This version is a 10-year plan for the town, although nothing proposed at the meeting was set in stone.

Some of the main areas of focus were the Town Commons, transportation, welcoming businesses, an increase in the diversity of housing choices and being more environmentally friendly, collaborative planner Matt Noonkester said.

Previously, the collaborative held “Planapalooza,” a townwide planning event in order to hear what the residents wanted to see in the future. The collaborative also has a Facebook page for the plan, which allowed residents to comment on the plan.

In addition to “Planapalooza,” the collaborative did 500 phone surveys, in-person interviews and online interviews. They received 362 comments about the plan. The planning group addressed and answered nearly all the concerns and comments about the first draft of the plan, which was released earlier this year.

“One aspect we wanted to acknowledge was not changing what people want left alone,” collaborative planner William Wright said. “We respect the history and ideals of Londonderry.”

Citizens are split down the middle when it comes to making a change or decision in town, Wright said.

Residents said taxes are too high, the area is overdeveloped and the town is loosing valuable open space.

Additionally, residents said they moved to town for its traditional New England atmosphere and rural aesthetics.

One of the major changes presented by the planning company was the revamping of the Town Commons.

“Some residents commented on how the Town Commons seem too small,” Noonkester said. “People have said you can drive right by it sometimes without even knowing.”

The collaborative proposed planting more trees in the area and reconfiguring Pillsbury and Mammoth Roads to make more room on the commons.

An industrial village was proposed to help bring reduce residential taxes and provide more revenue.

Rather than an industrial park, an industrial village would include places to eat and outdoor common areas, all within walking distance of businesses.

When the presentation was over, Planning Board members and residents appeared pleased with the results and thoroughness of the master plan.

“Londonderry is unique, but our challenges our not,” Londonderry Trail Ways president Robert Saur said. “We have New Hampshire sensibilities, I wish we had this plan earlier; the town commons proposal is fantastic.”

The two planners did an excellent job of listening to the community and what the town needs, Planning Board Chairman Arthur Rugg said.

Copies of the 207-page master plan are available in Town Hall and Leach Library, versions are also available on the town website.

Residents, town officials and Planning Board members will meet at Londonderry High School on Oct. 24 at 6 p.m. for another discussion on the plan.