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Londonderry residents air concerns about Woodmont project

Union Leader Correspondent

November 05. 2012 11:24PM

LONDONDERRY - Expanded public safety, roadway maintenance, metered parking revenues and the addition of a performing arts center were some of the concerns residents expressed Monday night during a public discussion on the proposed Woodmont Commons development.

Last month, the Planning Board accepted the Woodmont Commons plan as complete; the project is scheduled to head back to the board Nov. 14.?Several days later, the Town Council decided to schedule a public discussion, noting that many residents had unanswered questions. The $1 billion development, to be located on 625 acres of former apple orchard near Route 102 and Interstate 93, calls for several phases of construction, with plans to build 1,300 homes, offices, retail areas, hotels and more.

Council Chairman John Farrell said this week's hearing was purely for advisory purposes, since the council doesn't have authority over the Planning Board.

"If the developers and the board move forward with this plan, we understand things are going to change in this town," Farrell said Monday night. "But we're trying to get a feel from the community about what's most important so we can pass this information along to the Planning Board."

Around 30 residents attended the hearing, with many of them asking questions about where revenues from paid parking lots and parking meters might go, if the town would be responsible for the site's snow removal and whether a new public safety annex would be built for the area.

Resident and former town councilor Mike Brown urged the council to advise the Planning Board it is in the town's best interest to maintain the current zoning ordinance in full force.

"As one person who lives in this community, I'd like to see that," Brown said. "I think this would go a long way in determining the types of infrastructure needs we have."

Conservation Commissioner Mike Speltz agreed.

"According to the proposal we could have 800 residential units on the east side of I-93, or we could have none ... so how in the dickens are we going to plan if we don't know?"

Resident Martin Srugis said he'd prefer to see the town build a performing arts center to be used by the school, rather than having it be part of Woodmont Commons.

"My concern is the costs would outweigh the benefits as development goes forward," Srugis said.

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