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Nevins developer releases Londonderry from walking trail easement

LONDONDERRY — An ongoing dispute between the town, Nevins Active Adult Community residents and the neighborhood’s developer was peacefully resolved Monday night.

Following a brief public hearing, town officials agreed to accept current property developer Gilcreast Realty Holdings’ offer to pay the town of Londonderry $35,000 for the release of an open space public easement on the cooperative property.

Dozens of Nevins residents seated in the audience burst into applause following the council’s unanimous vote Monday, though no one commented publicly on the matter.

In March, town officials revealed that developers had made the town an offer to release a decade-old agreement to build a public walking trail.

With the town’s acceptance of the offer this week, that trail will never be built.

During a series of public hearings held over the past year, many Nevins residents spoke out against the prospect of a walking trail, noting that in some cases pedestrians could very well end up hiking directly under some homeowners’ windows.

However, the debate raised many questions from town officials, who wondered about the legalities of releasing part of an existing easement. Town officials later involved their attorneys in the process to clarify certain legal factors.

Prior to this week, the yet-to-be-built walking trail was part of a town-owned easement around the development’s perimeter.

Voters approved the easement in 2003, after previous developer Elmer Pease initially pitched a subdivision on the same site that was much larger and wasn’t age-restricted.

A special Town Meeting was held that year, where voters agreed to spend $2.9 million to appease Pease, who in turn agreed to make Nevins a smaller, age-restricted development.

Pease is no longer involved in the project and today there are 135 single-family homes in the Nevins cooperative neighborhood.

Londonderry Town Manager Kevin Smith said the $35,000 being paid to the town would most likely be placed into a special account “for future enhancement of neighborhood trails” in other parts of town.

Town Council Chairman Tom Dolan said he believed the council made the best decision possible when faced with a difficult situation.

“As a council, we believe the best solution is to release any and all rights to the town within the easement,” he said.

Councilor Jim Butler criticized Pease for his role in creating strife between the town and the Nevins residents.

“Quite frankly, to develop a piece of property where there are three (residential) encroachments on an easement is sloppy work on the developer’s part,” Butler said.

Dolan agreed with him.

“This developer really created a lot of unnecessary heartburn for you and for the town,” he told the Nevins residents.

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