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Friday, July 25, 2014

ZBA OKs wetlands exemption for new Nashua elderly housing project near Fields Grove

The local division of a statewide advocacy agency that assists low-income residents and elderly poor took another step forward this week in its plan to build an elderly housing unit at the end of Ash Street in Nashua.

The Zoning Board of Adjustment on Tuesday granted Southern New Hampshire Services a special exception to the city’s wetlands ordinance to allow the agency’s contractors to work within the required 75-foot buffer zone to install a stormwater drain to improve drainage flow from the proposed building. ...

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The local division of a statewide advocacy agency that assists low-income residents and elderly poor took another step forward this week in its plan to build an elderly housing unit at the end of Ash Street in Nashua.

The Zoning Board of Adjustment on Tuesday granted Southern New Hampshire Services a special exception to the city’s wetlands ordinance to allow the agency’s contractors to work within the required 75-foot buffer zone to install a stormwater drain to improve drainage flow from the proposed building.

“The criteria in this case is that they do no harm” to the wetlands, ZBA chairman Gerry Reppucci told the roughly two dozen people at the meeting.

The wetlands in question are part of Salmon Brook where the brook pools at the site of the former Fields Grove swimming area.

Reppucci’s fellow board members agreed, some saying that the drainage work will actually improve the existing drainage and runoff system.

“I’m confident this will be a step up from what’s there now,” member Jack Currier said. “I’m favorable to this as it is proposed.”

The ZBA at Tuesday’s meeting dealt only with SNHS’s request for the special wetlands exception, Reppucci told members and onlookers. “The project itself is not before us tonight (and is) not under our consideration,” he said.

That piece of the proposal will be taken up by the city Planning Board, probably at an August meeting, SNHS special projects coordinator Philip Grandmaison said Tuesday.

The agency’s plan involves constructing a three-story, 31-unit residence for seniors, space that Grandmaison said is critically needed in Nashua.

He said the waiting list for affordable housing for the elderly is long and getting longer. Should the project be approved, the residence would become the agency’s fifth such elderly housing site in Nashua, joining Davidson Landing I and II on Ledge Street, Streeter Shores on Temple Street, Wagner Court on Burke Street and J. B. Milette Manor on Vine Street.

The new building will tentatively be called Salmon Brook Senior Housing.

SNHS is also collaborating with The Stabile Companies, owner of the newly-opened Cotton Mill Square apartment complex on Franklin Street, to assist low-income individuals who are eligible to occupy a certain percentage of the apartments.

The site SNHS is currently eyeing involves four parcels that total roughly 2.3 acres. The property has been owned for generations by members of the Onsruth and Stylianos families, and is currently under the ownership of a combination of Cedric F. and Zoe Stylianos Onsruth of Merrimack and Onsruth Properties LLC, also of Merrimack.

The addresses are 198 Ash St., 200 Ash St., 17 Lovell St. and a vacant lot on the left side of Lovell Street, according to the SNHS proposal and city property tax records.

The proposal shows the new building’s main entrance will be on Lovell Street, with a second entrance on Ash Street that will be gated and used for emergencies, according to Jim Petropolis, an engineer from Hayner/Swanson, the engineering firm retained by Southern N.H. Services.

“The fire department would like that second entrance there,” he said.

As for the exception request, Petropolis said it is needed “to adequately convey our stormwater” away from the building. He added that the city Conservation Commission OK’d the request in June.

Several neighbors who attended voiced a couple of concerns, the most common of which involved the potential impact on the wetlands.

“We received a notice … what upset us the most is we thought there would be a big impact on the wetlands,” said Janice Holland, a resident of Fields Grove Flats, a single-building, adult condominium residence at 15 Lovell St., next door to the Onsruth-Stylianos property.

Reppucci assured her and other abutters that the impact will be small and is expected to improve conditions rather than worsen them.

That was good news to Jackie Maynard, who has lived at 191 Ash St. for more than 40 years and has seen plenty of drainage problems, often triggered by storms that produce heavy downpours.

“It comes up through the sewers, runs down our driveway,” she said, describing “excrement, papers, whatever, coming down our driveway. My husband was out there shoveling to get rid of that stench,” she added.

Reppucci reiterated the board’s conclusion that the proposed storm drain work will improve how the system handles water runoff.

The property itself, meanwhile, holds a special place in the surviving members of the Onsruth and Stylianos families. In a recent email to Grandmaison, Zoe Onsruth recalled growing up with extended family members as neighbors, surrounded by what was then known as the family farm.

“I have nice memories growing up knowing my grandparents, aunts and uncles – not a lot of folks can say that,” she wrote.

Dean Shalhoup can be reached at 594-6443 or dshalhoup@nashuatelegraph.com. Also follow Shalhoup on Twitter (@Telegraph_DeanS).