Planning Board gives go-ahead to subdivision, storage facility

240

WINDHAM — The Planning Board approved two projects at its meeting Tuesday night: a 25-lot cluster subdivision on Chute Road and a self-storage facility on Route 302.

Windham Planning Director Amanda Lessard told the board, which on March 12 had denied a request for a waiver on a well location for the Durant Homestead subdivision, that the waiver wasn’t needed.

There was “a misinterpretation by the code officer, and it meets the requirement,” Lessard said of the subdivision’s planned well location.

Some Planning Board members, such as Andrew Mayo, worried that the applicant was taking advantage of “a loophole.” 

Board member Michael Devoid added, “It’s discouraging to see projects cutting corners instead of improving the area. They’re finding another way to skirt the rules.”

Board chairman David Douglass said, “It’s not really a skirting of rules. This is not taking advantage of the situation, it’s just the way it’s written.” 

The board voted 5-1 to find the application complete, with Nick Kalogerakis opposed. It then voted 4-1 to approve the project, with Kalogerakis opposed and Devoid abstained. 

The board also approved a self-storage facility on a 1.38-acre lot on route 302. At the Feb. 12 meeting, the board had expressed its desire for a sidewalk in front of the site to connect with the adjacent sidewalk in front of Dollar General. 

Dustin Roma of DM Consulting Engineers presented on behalf of applicant Keith Harnum and said, “We wouldn’t propose a sidewalk by itself on this project. It was simply only because they (Dollar General) had done one that we were even talking about it.” 

“That is true. But now that it’s there, we have an opportunity,” Douglass said. “Do we want to squander our opportunity?”

Roma replied, “It’s not a huge dollar item to build a sidewalk. It’s just what it does to the site we felt was a negative.”

The board unanimously found the project complete and then approved the project 5-0, with Devoid abstained. 

The board was also faced with the Woodside Condominium Retirement Community again. A final application for the project, a 14-unit residential subdivision laid out over seven duplexes at Gray and Swett roads, was approved on March 12.

It reappeared Tuesday night because the applicant, Weld LLC, requested an amendment to expand the initial phase of the project to include an additional 38 units in 19 duplexes. 

“We’re well below the net residential density allowed on the property,” Roma said.

The project would be served by a public water main and include sidewalks. 

Lessard brought up the need for additional guest parking as well as a potential need for an additional streetlight. 

Some board members were concerned about the proximity of one unit to a wetland area, and Kalogerakis recommended moving it to a different location. 

Roma said he had considered that possibility but doing so would require performing much more earthwork. 

The board unanimously agreed to schedule a site walk and a public hearing for the project. 

The board also unanimously approved an amendment to the Week’s Farm subdivision, a 17-lot subdivision on Overlook Road, for the removal of a portion of the 15-foot forested buffer along the lot frontage. 

“There’s no requirement for this buffer whatsoever. It’s not a town-imposed standard,” Lessard said. 

The board also discussed amendments to the land use ordinance, in particular replacing the definition of construction services and adding contractor services, contractor storage yard and “heavy construction services, minor” as a use in the commerical 3 (C-3) zoning district. 

Many board members wondered why the change was being considered now. At the March 14, 2016, Planning Board meeting, the board proposed amendments to, among other changes, allow construction services as a conditional use in C-2 and C-3 zones.

The board recommended that the Town Council approve the amendments, but the council voted against them.

“It crashed and burned three years ago. I don’t know why it’s potentially a good idea now,” Douglass said Tuesday night. “If this is just because a couple people are pressing for this for personal reasons, that’s not a reason to change ordinance in town. It’s just not.”

Kalogerakis wondered “why we’re taking up the town’s time with this right now.”

The Town Council had been asked by the Windham Economic Development Committee and members of the public to consider adding construction services to the C-3 zone. 

A public hearing on the issue is scheduled for the next Planning Board meeting, Lessard said. 

Jane Vaughan can be reached at 780-9103 or at [email protected]