LONDONDERRY, NH – The Zoning Board of Appeals will wait until September to reconsider a variance request that would allow housing in an Industrial II site on Grenier Field Road, part of a proposed mixed-use development that includes industrial, office, retail and child care.
A request for rehearing on the housing variance that was rejected by the ZBA in June, as well as variance and special requests by Londonderry Holdings LLC for retail and child care at the site, was put off until the Sept. 20 meeting by unanimous agreement of the board.
The original design of The Village at Technology Hill project included 304 apartments in seven buildings at 104 Grenier Field Road and 6 Akira Way. The ZBA in June voted 3-2 to not allow the housing.
A developer can ask the ZBA to reconsider a variance if new information is provided to the board showing it meets the required legal standards, Kellie Caron, assistant town manager and economic development director, said after that vote. The developer could also come back to the board with an adjusted plan. It wasn’t clear by press time whether, or how, the plan had changed.
The overall project by Manchester developer Dick Anagnost would be anchored by a 262,000-square-foot industrial building for Envision Technology, which is allowed in the Industrial II zone. It would be built in two phases of 152,000 square feet and 110,000 square feet.
The developer is requesting special exceptions to allow child care at 6 Akira Way and 104 Grenier Field Road. Variances are needed for the housing, retail and a retaining wall in the conservation overlay district. All but the housing had been continued from the July 19 meeting to Wednesday night, when the board voted to continue them to the next meeting. A special exception allows a use that’s acknowledged as a possibility in the zoning ordinance, but requires ZBA approval to allow it. A variance is a request for a use that is not allowed under the zoning ordinance.
A project must meet five standards in order for a variance to be approved. The board in June voted 3-2 to deny the housing variance, saying it didn’t meet three of the five standards:
- A variance must not be contrary to public interest. The board voted 3-2 that it would alter the essential character of the neighborhood. Members also cited safety concerns caused by traffic.
- A variance must observe the spirit of the zoning ordinance. The board ruled that, for the same reasons public interest wouldn’t be served, the spirit of the zoning ordinance wouldn’t be met.
- Substantial justice must be done, meaning gain to the general public by allowing the variance must outweigh loss to the developer by not allowing it. The board agreed allowing housing in the industrial zone would do more harm to the public than benefit the applicant.
The two of the five provisions that passed were that the housing would not diminish neighborhood property values and that allowing it would not result in unnecessary hardship.
The specific requests by Londonderry Holdings LLC that were continued to Sept. 20 at Wednesday’s meeting were:
- Special exception to allow a group child care center in the Industrial II Zoning District, 6 Akira Way;
- Special exception to allow a group child care center in the Industrial II Zoning District, 104 Grenier Field Road;
- Variance to allow retaining walls in the conservation overlay district, 104 Grenier Field Road;
- Variance to allow a retail sales establishment in the Industrial II zoning district, 6 Akira Way;
- Variance to allow a retail sales establishment in the Industrial II zoning district, 104 Grenier Field Road;
- Rehearing regarding Case No. 06/21/2023-1 in which the board denied a variance to allow multi-family residential in the Industrial II zoning district, 104 Grenier Field Road.