Apartment Complex Gets Approval on Split Vote

In a split vote, the Derry Planning Board approved a revised plan for an apartment complex at 30 Brook St.

The project had a review and public hearing at the board’s Jan. 7 meeting.

The developer is Stage Crossing LLC and the parcel is PID 23016.

The discussion was continued from Nov. 5, 2014.

Engineer Brian Pratt represented the developer. After the first public hearing and several site walks Pratt was asked to come up with other options and presented three in the Jan. 7 meeting (see related story page 7).

The public hearing and review were centered on a revised plan that included cutting the number of townhouses from 10 to nine.

While he couldn’t present a complete plan, Pratt told the board that revising the plan from 10 to nine wouldn’t be difficult.

Pratt said he could drop one unit, move a driveway 20 feet, and create a 30-foot buffer closest to the abutter’s property line. However, he said, he would need a waiver to reduce another portion of the buffer from 30 feet to 10 or 12 feet in order to accommodate parking.

He said he also planned to seek a waiver to increase the driveway slope from three inches to five.

Town engineer Mark L’Heureux reminded the board that it didn’t have a complete set of plans for the new configuration. “There is no landscaping, no lighting,” he said.

Pratt said, “I didn’t want to go ahead with that until I gained approval from the board.” He said the lighting would require minor changes and that he would be “happy to put in significant landscaping” and work with both the abutter and town staff.

In the public comment portion only one neighborhood resident, Harvey Donovan, chose to speak. Donovan said the intersection of Fordway and Brook was already dangerous and “we need to fix it before we go ahead with this.”

But Chairman David Granese pointed out that this was not within the Planning Board purview but that of the Highway Safety Committee and Public Works.

Donovan also expressed concern that the driveway for the proposed complex would come out exactly opposite his driveway.

Pratt said that was the safer option and was chosen for that purpose. “We try to line up driveways when we can,” he said.

Member Randy Chase called attention to the parking configuration with the last unit and expressed concern that there was not enough room. Granese suggested moving Unit 9 closer to the turn-around loading zone to facilitate parking, and to reduce a portion of the snow storage area.

Board member Michael Fairbanks asked what would happen if Stage Crossing LLC didn’t get its waiver for the driveway grade.

Pratt responded, “If we don’t get it the buildings will be raised up a foot higher, and they won’t blend in as well with the topography.” He said even major highways often have up to a 6 percent grade.

The board voted on the waiver requests separately. For the buffer reduction from 30 feet to 10 to 12 feet, Fairbanks, Marc Flattes, Lori Davison, Ann Alongi, Robert Jean and Frank Bartkewicz voted in the affirmative. John O’Connor, Granese and Chase voted no, with Chase saying, “I think the 30-foot buffer should be maintained.”

On the waiver to allow the grading to be raised, eight members voted yes and O’Connor voted no, saying, “I think they should allow the building to be raised.”

The acceptance of the site plan also received a split vote, with Chase, O’Connor and Granese the dissenters. Chase said, “I think this is too intensive a use for this lot.” The plan was accepted 6-3.