By APRIL GUILMET
Union Leader Correspondent
LONDONDERRY -- As developers prepare to begin the initial phase of what will be Londonderry’s first conservation subdivision, the question surrounding the fate of a portion of Scobie Pond Road that hasn’t been publicly used in nearly 80 years remains to be answered.
During a public hearing held during Monday’s Town Council meeting, several residents voiced concerns regarding the requested discontinuance, even though the dirt road in question has been subject to gates and bars since a vote at the 1932 Londonderry Town Meeting.
Under town RSA, discontinuing town roads is left to the discretion of the Town Council.
In early March, the council received a petition from Jones & Beach Engineering on behalf of their clients, Chinburg Builders and Kenneth Lorden Trust, to discontinue and relinquish all public interest in the portion of Class VI highway known as Scobie Pond Road, located between Woods Avenue and Brewster Road.
Project engineer Jonathan Ring and Attorney Anne Crotty, both from Jones & Beach Engineering, attended Monday night’s meeting.
“It’s not used as a public access road right now,” Crotty emphasized. “We’re talking about an area that was discontinued by the town in 1932. Our applicant is hoping the town will give up all its rights to this road and completely discontinue it.”
Crotty noted that most of the road segment in question crosses the Lorden property.
In addition to the petition to discontinue Scobie Pond Road, Ring previously submitted a petition to approve a state PUC grant for sewer within the subdivision.
According the Town Planner Tim Thompson, the discontinued road segment was discovered and called into question during the design review process for Lorden Estates, a pending 159-lot subdivision Chinberg soon hopes to begin construction on.
An application acceptance for most recent plans for the 211 acre conservation subdivision, which is located off Old Derry Road on Lordenowned land running alongside Interstate 93, was held March 2.
The initial phase of Lorden Estates would encompass 51 housing lots. The public hearing on Lorden Estates will continue during the Planning Board’s April 13 meeting.
On Monday night, several property abutters expressed concern over the proposal to discontinue a segment of Scobie Pond Road.
According to Town Manager David Caron, all property abutters were notified of this week’s public hearing via certified mail.
Page Road resident Jon Weigler said he owns a parcel of land the road in question runs through and would prefer the path remain public, since he uses it as the property’s sole access point.
“It’s unclear what you’re doing here,” Weigler told Ring, who assured him a discontinuance wouldn’t prevent him from accessing his property.
Still, Town Councilor John Farrell suggested that Ring and Weigler “sit down and have a conversation about this before any resolution can be considered.”
Brewster Road resident Jim Wallack noted the area was rife with history and natural resources.
“I do believe it’s the oldest continually used dirt road in the country,” Wallack said. “The other important significance of this area is its wildlife. Aside from deer and wild turkey, this is moose habitat. It’s a beautiful area. I understand the future is coming but this little section of Londonderry should be left alone.”
And Public Service of New Hampshire spokesman Eugenia Snyder noted the power company does currently use the road segment to access transition lines.
“We have some concern for how to have that access and avoid the wetlands as much as possible,” Snyder told the Council.
She noted, however, that PSNH has utility rights for the corridor, though not for the access road.
“I think at this point there are a few conversations that need to be had,” Council Chairman Sean O’Keefe said.
With that, the Council voted unanimously to continue the public hearing to its April 18 meeting. In the meantime, councilors said they are hopeful more discussions among area abutters will take place.
Town Council meets again on Monday, April 18, at 7 p.m. at Town Hall.