, Derry, New Hampshire

August 30, 2012

Public hearing about Woodmont Commons next week

After delays, developers are ready for hearing

By James Niedzinski

---- — LONDONDERRY — The Planning Board has scheduled yet another public hearing on Woodmont Commons.

On Wednesday, Sept. 5, residents, town officials and the developers will discuss progress on the massive proposed development.

Pillsbury Realty Development bought about 630 acres for the project about two years ago for $7 million. The land purchased for the development is between Gilcreast and Pillsbury Roads.

While town officials have repeatedly asked Pillsbury to appear for a hearing, the development company has asked for continuances numerous times, delaying the process.

“If they feel they need more time to better prepare themselves, it’s in their right and best interest,” community development director Andre Garron said.

If approved, the development would include 1,300 homes, 550 hotel rooms and multiple businesses.

If Pillsbury passes the application review process, Woodmont Commons would take about 20 years to complete.

“With a large project such as this, we want things to go right,” said Michael Kettenbach, president of Pillsbury Realty Development.

Londonderry officials hired a third party reviewer, Howard/Stein-Hudson Associates of Boston, earlier this year to evaluate the land and the project — at a cost of $139,830.

“At this point, it’s up to the Planning Board,” said Ted Brovitz, community planning and design manager of Howard/Stein-Hudson. “We are just ready to respond to the public’s and the Planning Board’s questions.”

While some residents may be against the construction of Woodmont Commons because of the time it will take, money it will cost and the level of construction, others are in favor of the development.

“I am in support of Woodmont. It’s the shot in the arm our economy needs,” resident Doug Jones said. “I can certainly understand the concerns of people in the area, but over time their property value would only go up once Woodmont is complete. We are in a very unique position as a town.”

Woodmont Commons is the first time the town used the Planned Unit Development Master Plan; the ordinance was passed two years ago.

The PUD outlines goals, concerns and regulations of new developments. A Planned Unit Development allows a landowner to propose a development project independent from current land use regulations.

A Planned Unit Development master plan is akin to a special zoning district designation for a particular tract of land in terms of uses, dimensions and other development standards.

While the developers have asked for continuances in the past, as of last week, Kettenbach, his attorneys and engineers all said they would be in attendance for the meeting next week.