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Plan for Londonderry housing airing again next month

Union Leader Correspondent

October 29. 2012 9:55PM

LONDONDERRY - A controversial proposal to build an apartment complex at the end of Perkins Road will return before the zoning board next month.

On Oct. 17, members of the Wallace and Van Steenberg families appeared before the zoning board to request several variances for a proposed multi-family housing project to be located at 62 and 48 Perkins Road.

Proponents of the project are hoping to see more units, with fewer geared for lower income residents, but around 30 residents living in the area expressed worries of possible overdevelopment.

Among the variances being requested are a reduction in the number of work force housing units from 75 percent to 50 percent; a variance to exceed the town's limits on maximum number of housing limits per square mile; and a variance to allow 24 units per building even though 16 units per building is the town's current limit.

Resident Phil Cleobury described this month's meeting as 'four hours of delay tactics to avoid any time spent on public input.'

'I was extremely frustrated that once again we find ourselves debating the overdevelopment of this road,' his wife, Heather Anderson, added.

In Fall 2009, the pair gathered more than 100 signatures from residents who wanted to avoid a similar project that had been proposed.

'We have the same concerns today that we had in 2009 with respect to traffic, safety and the potential increased taxes resulting,' Anderson said this week. 'Perkins Road residents' traffic concerns have only been exacerbated with the (more recent) addition of 200-plus units at Vista Ridge. That the zoning board would sit and listen to a potential developer and his legal team for over four hours and then close the meeting and issue a continuance without even listening to the residents who sat patiently to give their stories only added insult to injury.'

The hearing has been continued to Nov. 15 as town officials seek legal advice from municipal counsel.

This isn't the first time discussions on such a project have upset the potential neighbors.

In June, a conceptual discussion on a proposed 240-unit apartment community at 62 Perkins Road raised the ire of dozens of residents.

Resident Benny Vachon wondered what would happen to the area's century-old trees, while his neighbor Brian Micciche expressed dismay since he had 'moved from the city (to Londonderry) because he wanted a simpler life.'

Still, developer Tom Monahan argued that the plans are consistent with the town's current inclusionary/work force housing ordinance.

In May 2007, the Londonderry Housing Task Force - a group formed to research the need for affordable housing in town and seek potential locations - began working with area legislators to mandate 'reasonable opportunities' for work force housing.

The committee's report was issued in April 2008, and the town's inclusionary housing ordinance passed two years later.

The Perkins Road site was among the sites listed and was chosen based on its location and accessibility to public utilities, among other things.

Twenty-four units used to be the maximum allowed in Londonderry, though with the adoption of the inclusionary housing ordinance, that number was reduced to 16 units after the town's Planning Department heard extensively from worried residents. However, in certain instances, a permit for 20-unit buildings may be granted, town officials noted.

The zoning board will meet again on Wednesday, Nov. 15, at 7 p.m. in the Moose Hill Council Chambers at Londonderry Town Hall.

Politics Real estate Londonderry