Local developer H&B Homes has been directed to work with both the Town of Derry and the Town of Windham, before being allowed to create a one-lot subdivision with a cul-de-sac in both towns. Joseph Maynard of Benchmark Engineering and Attorney Peter Bornstein represented the developers at the July 17 Planning Board meeting. The board expressed skepticism as to whether the plan would work, and directed Maynard to obtain an inter-municipal agreement with both towns. The issue was tabled to the Oct. 2 meeting.
Planning Director George Sioras said the cul-de-sac would be part of the original Middle Ridge subdivision. The property includes 4.3 acres in Derry. The proposed cul-de-sac, to be called Nathan Road, would be half in Derry and half in Windham, Sioras said. While Derry police, fire, the Conservation Commission and the School District have all signed off on the project, Code Enforcement and Public Works did not, Sioras said.
Maynard said H&B began working on the subdivision in 2003, with 400 to 500 acres on the Windham side and “a couple of residential parcels” in Derry. Wanting to develop the Derry side, they realized the only access would be from Linda Road, which was too steep for feasible development.
“This location was chosen because it’s a flat area and would require little grading,” Maynard said.
Maynard said Windham approved the project in 2009, with 75 lots in Windham and a “phased development.” Maynard said Derry isn’t phasing-friendly, needing the company to apply for extensions, so the owners decided to wait until they were ready to develop Nathan Road.
One of the lots would need a variance for reduced frontage, Maynard said, but he added he could not go to the Zoning Board of Adjustment until the Planning Board approved the project.
Maynard said Jack McCartney, the road agent for Windham, was amenable to taking over winter maintenance for the portion of the road in Derry.
But abutters and staff members were not so sure that would work. Terry Robinson and his wife, Ruth, deputy town clerk for Derry, have lived on Diana Road for 37 years. Terry Robinson said their property abuts Linda Road, and he is concerned about water drainage.
“In the winter and late spring, or when there’s heavy rain, the water flows into a dilapidated drain,” he said. The water drains onto his property. Irvin Joseph of 2 Linda Road echoed Robinson’s concerns. “If there’s any construction done, the disturbance will make the water situation worse,” he said.
Robinson also expressed concern about school buses and emergency response. Which town would respond to a fire or medical emergency, he asked.
Board member Jim MacEachern said, “If the lot is in Derry, the child goes to school in Derry. As for police and fire, we have a mutual agreement with Windham.”
But for legal purposes, MacEachern said, it would still be best to have the road completely taken over by Windham.
Mark L’Heureux, staff engineer for Public Works, said his department’s opinion was that the road should be completely within the Windham limits. “Or you can get an inter-municipal agreement to accept the road as a Windham road,” he told Maynard and Bornstein, adding, “We believe winter maintenance would be problematic.”
Chairman David Granese expanded on that, saying, “Suppose one of our town trucks goes in to plow, and the Windham half isn’t plowed yet. Would we have to plow for Windham? What if part of the cul-de-sac needs to be repaired?” But Bornstein said, “Is the expectation that all the tax money will go to Derry and all the road maintenance go to Windham?”
Code Enforcement Officer Bob Mackey explained his reasons for not signing off on the project. “Until we know where the road will be, it’s premature to sign off,” he said. L’Heureux also noted that there are “subtle differences” in the road standards for Derry and Windham. Al Dimmock, Town Council representative to the board, pointed out that Windham allows smaller lots. “If Derry approves this, there is only room for two lots by Derry standards, but for three by Windham standards.”
Derry requires a two-acre minimum, Mackey said. Dimmock has visited friends in the area, and noted the wetness of the ground, saying he saw a friend’s car “sink into the ground.” It would cost more money to make an access through Linda Road, but it might be the best option, Dimmock said, noting, “You need to prove to me that you wouldn’t flood out this area.”
Maynard responded that the developers have done “minimal blasting” and that any changes in the water table would be oriented toward the Windham side. Granese said, “I don’t want to see this board take any action on this until I see a letter of agreement signed by both towns.”
The board voted unanimously to continue the discussion to Oct. 2.