Multi-Family Housing Complex on Fordway Gets OK

In a split vote, the Derry Planning Board accepted jurisdiction and the site plan for a multi-family housing complex at 70 Fordway Road.

The board cited several concerns, including the size of the lot and the traffic impact to the area. But several members observed that the project meets the town regulations, and it passed, 4-2-1.

Tim Peloquin of Promised Land Survey represented the developer, Robert McCormack of Keystone Builders LLC. The property is PID 24005.

A site walk of the property was held earlier this month. Peloquin said in addition to the site walk, the project has passed through two Technical Review Committee meetings, two Highway Safety meetings, been reviewed by the Keach/ Nordstrom engineering firm that contracts with the town, and had a previous Planning Board session.

Peloquin said he and McCormack had engaged traffic engineer Steve Pernow after concerns about traffic were raised in last month’s meeting. “His conclusion is that the traffic impact of this project will be negligible,” Peloquin told the board.

Peloquin also made reference to a New Hampshire Department of Transportation report that had logged 5,500 cars at peak time in 2008. By 2011 that had been reduced to 5,000, Peloquin said.

Peloquin said he and the developer had complied “in good faith” with requests from the Planning Board and abutters. When one abutter expressed concern about downstream drainage, he altered the plans to include a double catchbasin.

Other requests have not been easy to deal with. At the site walk requests were made to save some of the original trees. “Yes, we could, but the landscape architect does not recommend that,” Peloquin said. Instead, the architect recommends a re-landscaping of the entire area.

“It is in our best interest to shield the property from the intersection,” Peloquin said.

A request for recreational space is being dealt with through picnic tables and a granite bench, he said.

Much of the discussion centered on a mythical half-apartment created by “rounding up” the number of units. In their initial calculation, Peloquin and McCormack planned on units of 3,630 square feet, the minimum needed for a multi-family development with town water and sewer. Dividing the lot area by 3,630, they ended up with a potential 13.65 units, and rounded it up to 14 units. But at a lot of 50,820 square feet, 14 units would not meet the regulations. There is not enough land to support 14 units, and the board recommended downsizing to 13.

The vote was 4-2-1. Darrell Park voted against the project because he said it altered the character of the neighborhood, and Chairman David Granese said it would provide a hardship for abutters. Ann Alongi, John O’Connor, Frank Bartkewicz and Jan Choiniere voted in favor of the project. Jim MacEachern abstained because he had not been present for earlier discussions, and Michael Fairbanks recused himself because he lives in the neighborhood.