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Access road likely first step for Woodmont Commons

Union Leader Correspondent

February 14. 2014 8:31PM
The former Woodmont Orchard's acres of undeveloped land stretch along Interstate 93 and abut the northern edges of Exit 4, seen in the top-left of this photo looking southward in Londonderry. The development planned for the site, known as Woodmont Commons, would be built in stages over the next 20 years. (File Photo Courtesy Steve Young/ImageAbility Inc.)

LONDONDERRY — Developers of the Woodmont Commons project shared details of anticipated milestones for the coming two years before a small audience at Town Hall earlier this week.

During Wednesday night's Londonderry Planning Board meeting, attorney Ari Pollack spoke on behalf of Pillsbury Realty, Development, LLC owner Mike Kettenbach, who was seated in the audience.

So far there's been no physical construction on the site, but developers said some major changes are now in the works.

The development agreement was recorded into the Rockingham County Registry of Deeds in late January, according to Pollack.

Officials said a three-acre parcel of land located just outside the development site is being donated for use as a future cemetery.

Once cemetery plans are finalized, the ownership of the land will be transferred to the town's cemetery trustees and a site plan will go before the Planning Board for approval.

Conceptual plans for a new access road connecting Route 102 to Pillsbury Road originated out of a planning condition that related to the relocation of the current Market Basket store on Route 102, Pollack said, though the road project is still in early design phase.

The supermarket was relocated to the other side of the Garden Lane shopping plaza several years ago and now, the former supermarket is sitting vacant.

Both the old and the new supermarket buildings sit on Kettenbach's property.

Pollack said the future road would require demolition of the old grocery store, noting the additional roadway would provide traffic relief along Gilcreast Road and also allow development to focus on commercial and retail users.

"We're hoping the access road will move through the design phase smoothly and will be ultimately brought forward by the Planning Board," Pollack said.

Board member Lynn Wiles wondered if anything else would be built in the near future.

"I think it would all begin with this access road," Pollack replied. "Because if you built it, people will come."

Board member Maria Newman expressed concern over the site's existing businesses, noting that the NH state liquor store, as well as the Baldaria Hallmark store are also housed in the former Market Basket building.

Pollack said it's unclear at this time if the entire building housing would need to be demolished, or just a portion of it.

Kettenbach said the two tenants of the building have already agreed to relocate to the other side of the plaza, where the new Market Basket store is located, if need be.

"They'll still be a part of the plaza either way, no question about it," he said.

Resident Mike Speltz agreed that it's challenging to predict what the future may bring.

"I agree, building the road first might be the best way to go," he told Pollack. "But I would be curious to know, if market conditions allow, what would you be doing first?"

Pollack said the southern tier of the project, focusing on retail, would "most likely emerge first," though it's too soon to decide for sure at this point.

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