The Derry Planning Board has given conditional approval of the plans for a multi-use complex at the junction of Island Pond Road and Route 111, while warning developers that they will need to come to the board for each individual tenant of the property.
Project manager Charlie Lanza of Lewis Builders and owner/developer David Framm appeared before the board at its March 18 meeting to discuss the project. While abutters expressed concern about several of the proposed uses, Lanza and Framm pointed out they didn’t have tenants yet, and the board reminded residents that each use would have to be individually approved.
The board also had to clear up confusion regarding “mixed use” development. The project was listed as “mixed use” on an information sheet and Vice-Chair John O’Connor asked if mixed use was permitted in the district. Planning Director George Sioras explained that the term in this case referred to mixed usage within the development itself, and should not be confused with the “mixed use zoning” discussed in recent months regarding Route 28 South.
Sioras said three buildings were proposed for the complex: a gas station/convenience store/coffee shop; a second building possibly housing a restaurant, health club, retail and other uses; and a third housing professional offices.
The area is zoned General Commercial and all the proposed uses are permitted in that zone, Sioras said.
The property is Parcel ID 04126 and 04127 and is at 418 Island Pond Road and 13 Route 111. Earlier in the meeting, the board approved a voluntary lot merger and the property is now PID 04126.
The two lots were merged to one 9-acre lot and the buildings will cover 31,500 square feet, Lanza said.
Lanza emphasized that the uses discussed were proposed uses and no tenants had been signed.
The project has been through the Technical Review Committee and the developers are working to address its comments, Lanza said.
The property has on-site water and septic. The water supply has been approved by the New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services, Lanza said, and the septic and shore land protection permits are pending. An Alteration of Terrain permit has been obtained.
In the public hearing, resident Michael Fairbanks again brought up the “mixed use” designation and Sioras said the term was applicable only for this site.
“We ought to change that term,” board member Jim MacEachern said. “These are all allowed uses in that zone.”
Resident Frank Olmstead expressed concern about adequate parking and Sioras said that depended to some degree on the tenants. “Sometimes tenants come in and we ask the developers to come back before the board,” he said. “But right now it meets the square footage requirement.”
John Lahey, a resident of Island Pond Road, expressed concern about traffic. “For me, when I try to get out of my driveway, I’m at the mercy of someone letting me out,” he said. “The traffic backs up at the light at 4:30 or 5 p.m.” Lahey asked if a traffic study is planned.
Lanza said it had been done three to five months before. “At full build-out, the light at Island Pond and 111 would have to be adjusted,” he said. “The applicant will meet with the (New Hampshire) Department of Transportation for possible refiguring.”
Lahey also expressed concern about businesses that would be open all night.
“Without tenants, it’s difficult to predict,” Lanza said.
“Our quality of life will change,” Lahey responded.
Sioras said, “When he gets tenants, he can put restrictions on them.”
Resident Judy Brake expressed concern about hours of operation, the size of the project and having the entrance on Island Pond.
“When David Framm bought the property, we envisioned a little shopping mall facing Route 111,” she said.
She’s concerned about having the entrance on Island Pond but so close to the traffic light, noting the potential for accidents.
“I’d be more comfortable if the entrance is on 111,” she said.
But board members pointed out that when the state bought land for 111, it restricted curb cuts on the road.
Regarding the hours, Brake said, “Workout clubs open at 5 a.m. Restaurants stay open till 10. And what about alcohol?”
Board members told Brake that the individual tenants would come before the Planning Board and the board could restrict hours.
Brake was also nervous about runoff, especially from the gas station. Lanza said all water would drain east, through a combination of catch basins and pipes to an infiltration pond.
Resident June Lahey asked about blasting, and Lanza told her there would be none. Lahey also expressed concern about traffic, noting that in her own informal traffic study, she saw “45 yellow light violations in an hour.”
O’Connor reminded residents that, “If we approve this, each building will have to come back to the board for approval. The minutes are available in draft form in five days. You have 30 days to come back to the board with concerns.”
MacEachern asked for a timeline and Framm said it depended on the economy. His plan is to build the gas station/convenience store/ coffee shop first, but he added that the entire site would be built out for drainage purposes. “The landscaping and other features would be put in before the buildings are built,” he said.
The board voted unanimously to give conditional approval to the project and to accept jurisdiction.