DerryNews.com, Derry, New Hampshire

June 20, 2013

Londonderry resident hopes for public park

Falvey proposes 19-acre park in Woodmont Commons

By Julie Huss
jhuss@derrynews.com

---- — LONDONDERRY — Woodmont Commons discussions continued last week with one resident finally having a chance to present his thoughts on what he would like to see.

On June 12, the Planning Board heard a presentation from resident Jack Falvey.

Falvey and other residents had petitioned the town for permission to offer a slide show presentation on a proposed “Apple Tree Park” as part of the planned Woodmont project.

Falvey wanted to present his information last month, but officials held him off until they could review the information.

Falvey wants planners to use 19 acres of the 600-acre project, including the orchards lining Gilcreast Road, for a public park. He presented a slide show with historic photos of homes, and other areas of town, including orchards and fields.

“I asked everyone in town to send us their photos of Londonderry,” Falvey said.

He said having Apple Tree Park as part of Woodmont would secure some of the town’s most valuable land, while keeping the integrity and rural character intact.

If it doesn’t happen, thousands of apple trees will be taken down for development’s sake, he said.

“To preserve a representation of our legacy is a reasonable request,” Falvey said.

Woodmont representatives are regulars at Planning Board meetings, bringing details on various portions of the plan to officials. Upcoming discussion will deal with the financial side of creating the proposed multi-use development.

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 would be completed in phases over 20 years.

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

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

Board Chairman Art Rugg said Woodmont was a complex plan. He appreciated Falvey’s efforts and said the process would take time.

“It’s taking a lot out of us,” Rugg said. “It’s a long, arduous journey and a huge undertaking.”

He said all input from residents is helpful as the process moves forward.

“There is a lot of Londonderry we want to preserve,” Rugg said, “but we have to do it right.”

Woodmont proponents are scheduled to return to the board at a future meeting with more fiscal information about the project.