NeighborWorks scales back its Merrimack housing proposalBy KIMBERLY HOUGHTON
Union Leader Correspondent
May 21. 2018 7:59PM
MERRIMACK — After listening to concerns from abutters and town planners, NeighborWorks Southern New Hampshire has scaled back its proposed housing development along the Daniel Webster Highway.
Last week, the agency met with the planning board to present newly revised conceptual plans for an eight acre parcel of vacant land at 315 Daniel Webster Highway.
Originally, NeighborWorks Southern New Hampshire intended to construct a total of 65 units. Now, however, the preliminary plans include a maximum of 45 units that will be contained within nine townhouse-style buildings with five units each.
Kevin Anderson with Meridian Land Services said the developer has been granted a density variance by the local zoning board to allow 5.5 units per acre, with a maximum of 45 units.
During the early stages of planning, environmental concerns were raised, as well as potential traffic problems and flooding issues, according to Anderson.
“We heard their feedback and we revised our concept,” he told the planning board. ” … We pushed the development as far away from the residential properties to the north.”
In addition, he said the newly revised conceptual plans include just one entrance and exit at Angelo Drive, explaining a second proposed connection to Island Drive was eliminated.
“There is obviously going to be an impact to Angelo Drive,” acknowledged Anderson, who believes the roadway can handle the traffic volume.
The property is currently owned by the Granite YMCA of Manchester.
Previously, town planners approved a separate project in 2007 and again in 2013 to construct 57 units of elderly housing on the same property, however those plans never came to fruition.
Anderson said the traffic study conducted at the time is still relevant, but questioned town planners what they expect in regards to a new traffic analysis.
“I think we need a full traffic study taking into account the sort of people who are going to be living here,” said Alastair Millns, planning board member. He said there will likely be more traffic as a result of the new plans compared to the former development that suggested elderly housing.
Anderson said he expects a formal site plan application to soon be submitted for the project.
“We are currently under design for this — it is actively being pursued,” he said.
Jean Washburn of 1 Willow Lane said that while some people may be pleased that the Island Drive connection has been removed from the plans, she still isn’t happy about the proposal.
“I want to go on record and say that I think it stinks. I think that we shouldn’t be taking the brunt of this whole project — I never did,” said Washburn, urging the developer to consider an alternative exit at the site.
NeighborWorks Southern New Hampshire has transformed neighborhoods by building about 500 housing units in the area since its inception in 1992 in response to issues troubling Manchester’s center city neighborhood; NeighborWorks Southern New Hampshire’s footprint now includes Manchester, Nashua and nearly 30 other communities.
The group’s mission is to help stabilize towns and cities by providing quality housing services, revitalizing neighborhoods and promoting community pride.