MERRIMACK — Plans have been developed for the next phase of the Normandy Estates housing complex.

Currently, there are 10 homes located in the development along Elizabeth Drive and Charles Road, although town planners previously approved the construction of 19 homes.

“The reason that has never been built is relatively obvious,” said Steve Keach of Keach-Nordstrom and Associates.

The topography of the site is incredibly steep, according to Keach, who said roadway plans could not be designed to meet current road standards.

One year ago, the owner of the property, Rob Lavoie, approached the planning board with a different plan for the parcel. However, when there were concerns raised about the steep grade from board members, the proposal was never pursued.

Now, with a new conceptual plan being developed, Keach said his firm has found a way to develop eight of the nine remaining lots.

The maximum grade permitted for a new roadway is 8%, and Keach said the new conceptual design mostly abides by the 8% regulation, with the exception of about 15 feet that is at a 9% grade.

“The rest is constrained by physics … This is as close as we can get to compliance,” he told the planning board this week.

Robert Price, planning and zoning administrator, said in a memo that the proposed lot line adjustments will allow the developer to shift the location of the proposed road to follow the existing terrain and make for safer conditions, however the grade still exceeds the maximum in the subdivision regulations.

“We don’t really want to do any blasting if we can avoid it,” said Keach, explaining there are already homes nearby that could be impacted.

Robert Best, planning board chairman, said a waiver would need to be granted in order for the project to move forward since the grade requirement is not met. Still, Best said it will likely not be a problem since the project is only 1% too steep.

“I think you have a tough piece of property, but you have come up with a reasonable solution for it,” said Best, noting the zoning board would still need to grant some relief as well.

Tim Thompson, planning director, encouraged the developer to continue working with town staff and representatives from the department of public works to reach as many requirements as possible.

The local public works division is asking that a cul-de-sac be constructed at the end of Elizabeth Drive as part of the project.

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