Hearing Set on Proposed Downtown Land Purchase

Derry residents will be asked May 21 to weigh in on a potential land purchase designed to bring new business and tax dollars to the downtown area. The public hearing will seek residents’ opinions on the purchase of 8 Central St., Tax Map 30, Lot 34, priced at $173,000. The money would be taken from the Land and Buildings Capital Reserve Fund, leaving a balance of $181,000 in the account.

The Town Council voted 6-1 at its Jan. 8 meeting to purchase the property, with Councilor Michael Fairbanks the dissenting vote. At the time of the vote, Fairbanks said he didn’t think the town had a good enough plan, and in a “tough budget year,” he was leery of spending the money. The property, combined with a parcel north of Sawyer Court that was purchased earlier this year, would be marketed to developers and would also improve access to the town parking lot on Abbott Court, Town Administrator John Anderson said. The Abbott Court parking lot is under-utilized by residents, Anderson said.

“Our intent is to put an RFP (Request for Proposals) out on the street to redevelop the entire parcel,” Anderson said.
The Abbott Court parking lot is part of a bigger parcel of town-owned land including the Difeo property, which the town bought several years ago from the Difeo Oil Company, Anderson said.

The town has a purchase-and-sale agreement for the property, he said, and will solicit RFPs once the purchase goes through. The parcel is identified on the tax maps as owned by Everett Jabour; the building is assessed at $90,800 and the land at $66,500. Anderson said the building would be torn down. While Anderson and the majority of the Councilors supported the purchase as a necessary move to shore up “downtown,” some community members questioned whether the town should be in the real estate business.
The public hearing will be held at the Council meeting Tuesday, May 21, beginning at 7:30 p.m. in the Council chambers at the Municipal Center.