DerryNews.com, Derry, New Hampshire

Opinion

January 2, 2014

Editorial: Towns must manage growth well

(Continued)

Frankly, Derry residents have more important things to do than watch their councilors squabble week after week. They have to figure out how they are going to pay their taxes this year, which are among the highest in the state.

Economic development is key to easing the tax burden afflicting Derry residents. Previous economic development efforts have suffered from a lack of focus and failed to deliver much in the way of results.

The widening of Route 28 north of the town center and other road improvements around town have given Derry the solid infrastructure needed for future economic development. Getting a new town administrator on board to facilitate that effort is essential.

Londonderry town leaders will have to continue to explore ways to manage the town’s growth.

In September, town planners approved the mammoth Woodmont Commons development. The plan calls for homes, businesses, streetscapes, hotels, gardens and open space over 600 acres of the former Woodmont Orchards. The billion-dollar project will be built over the next 20 years.

Woodmont will keep Londonderry officials busy for years. Planners will need to monitor the progress of the development and its impacts on the larger community. Developers will be submitting plans for each piece of the project as the work proceeds.

Woodmont will have a huge impact on Londonderry’s police, fire, public works and school services. For the coming fiscal year, new Town Manager Kevin Smith has asked department heads to keep the town under the default budget of $28 million. Police Chief William Hart and fire Chief Darren O’Brien said their budgets will be tight but the town will suffer no reduction in services. That trend cannot continue indefinitely.

“Moving forward we have challenges,” Hart said recently. “It’s something we need to be considering right now. (We need to think about) what we’re going to look like in two, five, 10, 20 years.”

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