, Derry, New Hampshire

May 15, 2014

Workforce housing plan returns to planners

By Julie Huss

---- — LONDONDERRY — A proposal to bring a 240-unit apartment complex to Perkins Road returned to the Planning Board last week.

The plan, known as the Wallace Farm project, would bring workforce housing to a 25-acre property on Perkins Road near Interstate 93. Developers have come before numerous boards over the course of two years, including the Heritage Commission, Zoning Board and Conservation Commission.

Half of the 240 rental units would be designated as workforce housing. Families or individuals tenants would have to qualify as earning a certain percentage of the median town income to be able to live there. This followed a town housing task force dialogue several years ago, saying there wasn’t enough affordable rental units available for working people.

The land has a long history in town. It was once known as the Wallace family farmland and is now owned by developer Tom Monahan. He came before the Planning Board with Nashua-based attorney Thomas Leonard to give planners a refresher on where the plan stands now.

Leonard said Wallace Farm is currently the only rental housing project proposed in Londonderry.

“It’s hard to find quality rentals in this area,” he said.

Families who want to live there will have to earn no more than 60 percent of the median income for a family of three, Leonard said.

“That’s a pretty high number,” town planner Cynthia May said. “It’s for everybody. I could live there if I chose to.”

Leonard said a lot of work has gone into the project.

He said this is not low-income housing and the plan is aimed at making housing affordable. Rents could be approximately $1,300 a month.

Concerns from various town boards have been taken into consideration, Leonard said, with project design details putting the buildings farther back on the property as to not impact the historic farmland and also make the site more attractive. That includes how traffic flows in and out of the complex.

“There will be no driveways coming out onto the street, there will be no 10 driveways backing out onto Perkins Road,” Leonard said.

Existing stone walls and trees would be preserved. Monahan said his plan is meeting the goals the town set to provide affordable housing.

“These are not inexpensive and they are high quality units,” he said. “They meet the goals of the town to provide diverse housing for all types of people.”

Wallace Farm will return to the Planning Board at a meeting June 11. More details will be presented then on traffic, variance requests, and setbacks.