March 4, 2011

Conservation Development Gains Planners Support

Union Leader Correspondent
LONDONDERRY -- A local developer is another step closer to building what would become the town’s first conservation subdivision on 211 acres alongside Interstate 93.
During a public hearing and application acceptance held during the March 2 Planning Board meeting, Eric Chinberg of Chinberg Builders in Laconia shared final plans for Lorden Estates, a 159-lot eco-conscious
 subdivision to be located off Old Derry Road on Tax Map 16, Lot 38. Accompanying him were project engineer John Ring and wetland scientist Mark West.
Chinberg said the project is being planned in phases, with the initial phase encompassing 51 housing lots. A formal application for the project was submitted earlier last month.
With wetlands permits already
 granted, project officials said any wetlands impact would be of a temporary nature, with a private sewer system on site.
Town Planner Tim Thompson said Wednesday that there were no outstanding checklist items, and staff recommended accepting the application as complete on the condition that conservation overlay boundary marks be
 placed on the property, among other things.
The Planning Board voted unanimously this week to grant a conditional use permit, though the public hearing was continued to the April 13 meeting, which Thompson noted was necessary due to the ambitious nature of the project.
“This is a very good example of what the conservation subdivision
 ordinance was designed to provide for us,” he added, noting a full traffic study had been conducted of the entire build-out.
“We’ve come to the conclusion the initial phase doesn’t require off-site improvements, though some improvements would likely be needed for fu
ture phases,” Thompson said. 

Chinberg, who has been building in the Granite State since 1987, said the conservation subdivision plan would incorporate single-family homes with designated open space areas. The proposed homes would be fashioned in bungalow- style and would be economical and energy efficient. Developers previously noted the homes are expected to be priced within a relatively reasonable range, estimated to be from $209,000 to $299,000. 
The overall site would boast three areas of open space, including a 35-acre central valley area. Total open space acreage would be 102 acres, which at 48 percent of the site’s acreage would exceed Londonderry’s 40 percent minimum requirement for open space in a conservation subdivision. 
Approved by the Town Council in October 2009, Londonderry’s conservation subdivision ordinance, which encourages more open space and fewer paved areas, was written by a former planning department intern and took several years to conceptualize. Unlike a conventional subdivision, a conservation subdivision has significantly more open space. In addition, parcels of land greater than 20 acres that are located within 100 feet of existing conservation land would be subject to mandatory standards. As an incentive to developers, the ordinance also permits a 5 percent tax bonus to be given for public pedestrian access, while a 10 percent bonus may be granted for protecting view sheds. However, total tax bonuses would be capped at 20 percent, Thompson previously noted, and such parcels are still subject to residential phasing.

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