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Former Nashua dairy farm to be converted into 37 home sites

NASHUA — A former dairy farm will be converted into 37 homes this fall, as city planners recently approved the construction of Monis Farm Estates.

The 30-acre parcel at 4 Searles Road is the last undeveloped piece of property in southwest Nashua. In addition to the construction of nearly 40 houses, three plots of open-space totaling about 10 acres will be preserved as conservation land as part of the project.

The land, which operated as a dairy farm until 1986, has been owned by the Monis family for more than six decades. After the death of Frank Monis last September, relatives opted to have the property developed, according to Jim Petropoulos, an engineer with Hayner Swanson Inc.

Two aldermen voiced concerns about the project at last Thursday's Nashua City Planning Board meeting, at which time the board ultimately approved the construction.

Alderman Daniel Moriarty, Ward 9, compared the loss of the farmland in southwest Nashua to the loss of Parcel F in the city's north end, a 33-acre parcel that is being converted into an 85-unit elderly housing complex known as Hayden Green.

"It is a jewel, it really is," said John Going of 61 Searles Road of the farmland.

Acknowledging that the land is important, Petropoulos told city planners that the proposal includes significant protection of 10 acres. A different development proposal in the future, he said, could include all of the property.

"We think we've done the best job we can, all things considered," said Petropoulos.

The site is wooded, with the exception of two fields. In addition to the three parcels of open space being planned, Petropoulos said the applicant, the city and the conservation commission reached a mitigation agreement.

To offset the impact on nearby wetlands, he said, the owner will complete a portion of the Nashua Rail Trail from Searles Road to Ridge Road, which will be paved.

"I don't want to see it ruined," Going said of the dirt and gravel path. "Don't pave it."

Alderman Mary Ann Melizzi-Golja, Ward 8, said some of her constituents were concerned about the possibility of a second phase of construction, noting there is space on at least one four-acre lot for future houses to be built.

Worries about fertilizers and other runoff harming the nearby Trout Brook and Salmon Brook were also a concern, said Melizzi-Golja.

According to Petropoulos, paving the bike path was recommended as a 25-year solution because paving would erode much slower than stone dust. He said that no vehicles will be traveling on the paved rail trail, so there should be no runoff into the nearby waterways.

The Monis family, he said, has no future plans to develop more of the property.

The project, which abuts the existing Meadowview Estates condominium development, was approved by the planning board with several stipulations, including a mandate that the paved rail trail must be tilted away from Salmon Brook to avoid potential runoff.

The 37 lots will be typically less than one-third of an acre, and the nearest condominium on Cadogan Way will be about 200-feet from the closest home to be built at Monis Farm Estates, according to developers.

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