DerryNews.com, Derry, New Hampshire

July 4, 2013

Woodmont supporters offer fiscal impact details

By Julie Huss
jhuss@derrynews.com

---- — LONDONDERRY — It was time to talk money during the most recent round of Woodmont Commons discussions.

At the Planning Board meeting June 26, officials met with a group of Woodmont Commons supporters and proponents, this time to talk about the massive proposed development’s impact on town’s services, schools and the tax base.

The proposed 600-acre, multi-use development is proposed by Michael Kettenback and Pillsbury Realty Development.

Woodmont representatives have appeared before town officials for months giving details on different aspects of the project, from utilities to traffic, from preserving green space to businesses and people who might eventually call Woodmont home.

This time, project proponents offered financial details about how the project would weigh on the town’s taxes, annual revenue, school systems and public works operations.

Lucy Gallo, representing Development Planning Financial Group of Chapel Hill, N.C., offered a look into the Woodmont plan and how the project might affect the town and its financial health.

She said her analysis came from studying Londonderry tax rates, impacts on services, real estate information and development trends.

“I prepare analysis for large-scale projects all over the country,” she told officials. “This will determine how Woodmont Commons impacts the town of Londonderry and its general fund.”

Those impacts could bring millions of dollars to the town, Gallo said, from thousands of new residents, motor vehicles and added business, supporting the town’s tax base and lessening the burden on taxpayers every year.

“Woodmont Commons could bring 3,600 more residents and 3,776 new employees to the town,” she said.

That may include more than 800 new students for Londonderry’s schools when all is said and done.

But money will also be spent by the town to handle extra stress on police, fire and other town services.

Official Tom Freda said 3,000 more residents would add up to a 14 percent increase in population, something that could burden the town workforce.

“Our town employee population has increased by about two in 12 years,” he said. “They are at their maximum capacity now for doing things.”

Some say it’s too early to predict what impact there might be on the town.

Assistant Public Works Department head John Trottier said he was concerned about what Woodmont might mean for his department.

“This fiscal impact analysis doesn’t address solid waste and sanitary waste disposal,” he said.

He said the project is the densest the town has ever seen, with many unknowns as to the road structure, lighting, maintenance of roads and who is responsible for what.

Pillsbury purchased the Woodmont Orchards property two years ago for $7 million. The project, as proposed, would be completed in phases over 20 years.

The Woodmont discussion was continued to the Planning Board meeting July 10.