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  • Image source: City of Nashua GIS map
  • Image source: City of Nashua GIS map
Thursday, May 3, 2012

Hollis challenges regional impact of 30-lot subdivision approved for Nashua’s Farley Road

NASHUA – Hollis officials feel they were not given enough notice about a 30-lot subdivision that the Nashua Planning Board approved for Farley Road, which can only be accessed by driving through Hollis.

Last week, Hollis selectmen’s Chairman David Petry and Planning Board Chair Ed Makepeace issued a letter to Nashua’s Planning Board asking them to reopen their discussion about the subdivision, which was presented by NJC Realty Holdings on April 12.

Citing the state’s Regional Impact statute, Hollis officials said Nashua did not give the town enough “turnaround time” to inform Hollis boards of the proposed project coming before the city April 12, despite the abutter notice they received about the Planning Board meeting.

“There’s going to be a lot of truck traffic. (The developer) needs to bring in silt, gravel and sand into the site, and the impact of that project on the road is a concern to the Public Works director,” Hollis Planner Mark Fougere said Monday, citing concerns that the road and its older catch basins may not be able to support the traffic increase from construction vehicles.

At the time, Nashua’s Planning Board unanimously approved plans to bring NJC’s 30 1,500-square-foot homes, to a 20-acre site with 200 feet of frontage along Farley Road.

The site, currently owned by Nashua Assembly of God Church, is in a sharply angled corner of the city’s boundary, which can be reached only by driving through Hollis.

The approved development would target older, retired persons, although it is not age-restricted.

Hollis’ letter to reopen the case was filed within the development’s 30-day appeal period.

Nashua’s Planning Board will review the communication during its Thursday meeting at 7 p.m. at the City Hall auditorium. The board has the final say on which city projects have regional impact issues, and will decide whether to reopen the proposal with another hearing.

In March, Nashua’s Planning Board unanimously agreed that the subdivision was not an issue of regional impact, and instead opted to send Hollis notification of the April meeting on the project as a property abutter.

A month earlier, Nashua’s Zoning Board of Adjustment reached the same conclusion about regional impact, and it, too, notified Hollis of the ZBA meeting on the development as an abutter before approving the plans.

“With all due respect, the Town of Hollis, through its Board of Selectmen and Planning Board strongly disagree with this determination,” Hollis officials wrote, “and believe that, at a minimum, the fact that access/egress to this site can only be achieved over a Hollis road, in and of itself leads inescapably to a conclusion that the project is one of Regional Impact under the applicable statutory standard.”

Regional impact laws speak to proposed developments that are likely to have impacts beyond the boundaries of a single municipality and are meant to provide opportunities for the regional planning commission and potentially affected municipalities to give their input.

Hollis officials said the subdivision would generate 343 new vehicles a day to the rural community, increasing Farley Road’s current traffic of 2,590 vehicles by 13 percent.

With 95 homes on Farley Road, the subdivision also would increase the number of homes in the area by 31 percent, Hollis officials wrote, and cars exiting the Nashua development will have to drive more than a mile in Hollis before reaching the town line.

If Nashua’s Planning Board had tabled the proposal April 12 and issued a regional impact notice, Hollis would have had more time to discuss the development among its staff, according to the letter, as regional impact notices provide for a longer notification period.

“The Town of Hollis did receive an abutters notice 10 days before the meeting,” Fougere said. “Staff was informed of the project. The town administrator and selectmen were not.”

Hollis’ letter also cited a situation the town faced in 2000 in which a senior housing development on South Depot Road, near the Nashua line, was unanimously considered to have regional impact.

Selectmen were concerned they were not officially notified of the Farley Road development by Nashua officials, Fougere said, and that they did not have a chance to weigh in on the development.

The parcel, at 91 Farley Road, was under scrutiny in recent years when neighbors fought Bishop Guertin High School’s plans to build athletic facilities there, including six tennis courts and four athletic fields, some lit at night.

The idea drew protests from residents in Nashua and Hollis about traffic, noise and nighttime lighting in one of the most rural areas left in Nashua.

When that project was under review in 2009, Hollis officials had also been notified as abutters, Nashua’s Planning Director Roger Houston said. The plans ultimately got planning and zoning approval, but the project was never built.

According to the April 12 meeting minutes, no one spoke in favor of or against the 30-lot subdivision, and it was not opposed by abutters, Raisanen said.

Hollis planning staff did not attend the meetings on the subdivision proposal because they would not go unless selectmen advised them to do so, Fougere said.

“Initially, we didn’t think there would be an issue, but the Public Works director got some more information relative to the project and there are concerns,” he said.

With the new 30-lot subdivision, residential traffic also will increase in the future, Fougere said.

“For Nashua, this isn’t a big project; for Hollis, it is,” he said. “The concern is there’s going to be more trips on the road, but it’s more during the construction process – that’s what we’re focusing on right now, not so much after the fact.”

Hollis also is meeting with NJC Realty Holdings to sort out some of those issues.

“At the end of the day, our concerns are going to be addressed by the applicant,” Fougere said. “I think we’re going to get it resolved.”

Maryalice Gill can be reached at 594-6490 or mgill@nashuatelegraph.com. Also, follow Gill on Twitter (@Telegraph_MAG).