We the People, of the Town of Londonderry

I think we have talked long enough so we can now finish each other’s sentences.

Let’s take some action:

Let’s get some signatures on our manifesto: We the People…

December 31st is a Saturday and New Years Eve. Let’s make that We the People’s Day in Londonderry.

That will be the day we the people will be on the town green in front of the cannon to collect signatures on our document to be presented to the head of the town council: Sean O’Keefe.

We can all make copies ahead of time and get as many signed in advance as possible.

I would recommend copying it two sided and getting one signature per copy. (If someone wants to send a message there are a few lines below the signature line.) All those signing should also receive a copy for themselves.

Let’s get going. Let’s get organized. Let’s get the Town Green thing organized. Let’s get the brownies baked. Do you have a clip board?

Does someone have a folding table.

Is Andy Mack in town to paint us a sign or two?  Honk if you like Londonderry! STOP and SIGN if YOU LOVE LONDONDERRY

9:00 to 5:00 on the green Saturday December 31st. Can we do a coverage list? I’ll be there all day!

Let’s get this done.

Jack,

Some questions for the responders below:

Ray- why the Dave Caron filter and not a direct Q&A with the town attorney? Just wondering.

Mr Germany- that was a great article to read. Nice to know their thinking on neighbors to their projects. Do you have any articles on how NIMBYs blocked his developments?

All the picture of Duany needs is a cup of Starbucks in his hand- I can just see him growling the words “urban sprawl”. Where’s my darts!

Jack,

After reading your rough draft I would be happy to place my signature this document. I would also be willing to share my experiences in Germany with anyone that has questions beyond the outlines I have written for this group.

One more thing for the group to consider…
I have done a lot of reading on the New Urbanization movement (sometimes referred to as smart growth) and on Andres Duany. Many of my opinions in opposing Woodmont as a high density development are because of this reading. Even though Mr. Duany has been a part of about 200 of these mini-cities around the country, he has not always been successful in his efforts. His group has had their effort pushed back by some communities that see through the facade. His response to these communities is fairly hostile and arrogant (which we saw in the charettes). I think the following article will be of interest of some in the Londonderry community (it certainly answers some of the questions about the attitude we have been seeing). Please take note of the comments following the article.

http://www.architectmagazine.com/planning/control-the-masses-andres-duany.aspx

For more comments from Jack’s followers and opinions on the Woodmont project, be sure to click Read More! To view or print a copy of “We the People”, click here.

“Jack Falvey Et al:” provides a hometown analysis of Woodmont Commons. Since attending the design charrette offered by the developers of the project Jack has been asking questions, you too have been asking questions, many to Jack himself. He has provided thoughtful analysis from his point of view and shared it back to the questioner and a growing list of Londonderry residents wanting of more information.

As they become available we will provide these questions to our readers and the search engines. We hope to provide a broader view of the project through the eyes of someone that came to town in the 1960′s. Jack raised a family here, volunteered in local government and founded his company “Making the Numbers” after a career at Gillette. As a motivational speaker and a prolific writer with major media outlets his views on the project may take you by surprise!


Hi Jack,
I spoke with our Town Manager, Dave Caron, today about the possibility of having a handful of Londonderry citizens being able to meet with Attorney Bart Mayer regarding Woodmont. I know our email group could retain our own Attorney, but wanted to discuss all our options. Dave said that if we brought a number of questions we might like answered to him, he would bring them to Bart for answers. I had expressed to Dave my opinion that at last week’s meeting, myself and a number of people I spoke with didn’t feel the Planning Board was representing them in the true sense of the word, and that their Chairperson, Art Rugg, seemed almost annoyed when a citizen stepped up to the mike. I know Mr. Rugg and other members had their hands full keeping the Applicant’s Attorney at bay…at least that was my perception. I also think that for legal reasons the Town of Londonderry, including Staff and the Planning Board members, have to look at this project with an open mind, which it should. I also indicated to Dave that our group is still waiting for answers to the 100-150 legitimate questions that seem to get put off regularly, that we have waited months to get answered. The Applicant seems to want to ram this huge plan through before any questions get answered, that the Planning Board and Staff will be looking at for the next 10-20 years. Slow down…what’s the rush! I would like the email groups comments about presenting questions to our Town’s Woodmont Attorney via Dave Caron, and if it sounds okay, we can have the questions sent to you.
Regards,
Ray Adams

I like it! I don’t like the developers’ seeming arrogance that we have to be saved from ourselves. The only way we country fools can hope to be part of civilization is to allow this development to go through exactly as they desire, with loose ends galore? Am I misreading this? Am I missing something? I’ve lived here 32 years and have successfully raised a family in my Londonderry home. My son and his wife, residents of Manhattan for years, bought a house and moved here (Windham) when they realized they were having a child. High density and its issues are not what they want for their young family, sprawl or not. Funny; exactly what I thought years ago when we moved here from an urban environment. We aren’t alone. It’s true that the developers bought the land, but we must have our town officials listen to their citizens about the direction of the community we have been committed to. We’re looking at a big change. We need answers and transparency, not a rush to get this through. (It is the best time of the year to pull this. When the celebrating, shopping, and cookie-baking are over, we learn what’s hit us when we weren’t paying attention.) Don’t the officials work for us as well as for the new guys who bought up the land, will develop it, and then move on?

I am still waiting for a response from Dean Coons to my question about deleting the Charrette material but so far nothing. I still don’t understand, days later, what would motivate them to make a decision like that. Only the developer benefits from speeding up the process, I think. If those board members lived only 15 feet away from the project like I and many others do then I am sure they would be thinking alot harder about the consequences of their actions: possible catastrophic financial loss to our biggest investment- our homes, permanent environmental damage to our neighborhood and the massive drain on the the towns resources (which are paid for via our property tax which will not go down just because new business moves in as history will show) to manage this monstrosity once the developer is all done and waves goodbye. But we all know that if it’s not on our doorstep then it wont have the same cold, hard slap in the face effect as it does to those of us who have to face this head on.
Yes, I agree the time for waiting and watching and hoping for the best is over. It looks imminent now and according to Andre Garrons schedule we only have 44 days until the reviewer gets it. In my opinion we are going to need a Real Estate Attorney, an Environmental Engineer and as many citizens as possible to negotiate with this developer. I’ll bet if we corral enough people together we will gain access to the two above mentioned individuals who will probably be better positioned to help as they will hopefully not be associated with the developer. Kettenbach has done this type of work for decades and he has several attorneys to make sure he is protected so I think we need one to. If the town attorney could act as such he may be the right choice, however, since he didn’t make the meeting and wasn’t qualified to review it himself or find a colleague to review it then I wonder if he is even going to be much help at all. Even the planning board members admitted that they have no idea how to handle this. We need serious help with this right now so I suggest we all make some calls starting this Monday and see what we can come up with by the end of the week. We need the support of all or many of the abutters (and to learn who all the abutters are), an attorney and an environmental engineer or person in some similar capacity. I think the Planning Board needs help with this and it has to come from us.

I know it’s Christmas and everyone is busy and it’s cold and everyone just wants to take it easy and everyone is entitled to do that. I’m not trying to incite some kind of demonstration here. But if the Town of Londonderry Planning Board approves this in a few weeks and we don’t turn this Woodmont Commons Master Plan inside and out to make sure we will not only not be harmed in any way by it but benefit from it as we are entitled to then I think we will all live to regret it.
I will communicate to you what I find out this week via email or meeting. I have already read everything I could find about this but I will look for more. And I will look for individuals who might be able to help. I haven’t seen the Master Plan but want to see that too. I will research other PUD developments and see what their effect has been on their towns. I will get educated and take this more seriously myself. Whomever is willing to get serious about this I would ask that you do the same and anything else you can think of to learn more and also report back by the end of the week. We are so fortunate to have had a person like Jack Falvey get on the ball with this so early on and be tenacious enough to get educated and speak up and he is to be commended for his- Thanks Jack!! But he should have had all of us right behind him all along…


Jack,

Will they ever get the message !!! My answer to that is “NO”. At some point the citizens and tax payers of Londonderry need to have someone stand up and protect the best interest of the common good. That I feel, is not what our elected and appointed official have demonstrated to date. Why is a good question! I can only guess what the motive would be. Could it be the “Pit Bull”? When the PUD was enacted by the Town of Londonderry that was just what the fox needed, the pit bull will lead the way, but the fox is going to eat your lunch big time! I may not be a rocket scientist but when I see a lot of dead chickens “tax payers” on the road side, I bet the fox is not far behind. The pit bull prefers red meat laced with tax payer money “law suit’s” .

GNS (Gary Stapleford)

I hope my comments don’t seem too over the top but I’m actually mortified about what this will do to the value of our home. And I have some big concerns about the environmental impact too. I’ve been researching on the EPA website and have already found several issues that will conflict with their master plan of which the most serious is the hospital and it’s toxic waste incineration. Basically they can’t put a new hospital so close to residences because the incineration of toxic materials such as blood and body parts will make people sick as it has been proven that this process can transmit diseases. And also there are 3 hospitals and a medical center within 15 minutes of here and I think they would be successful in blocking another hospital from competing with them as Parkland did when they took issue with the new Eliott medical center. In that case Parkand just built it’s own medical center across the street but that wont happen in this case. So in my opinion there are several good reasons not to allow a hospital there.

Also, I’m so happy that they will leave some apple trees in front of us but they will not block our view of the residents back yards in the winter because they are deciduous trees. I’d like to see them add some evergreens too on their side. And I’m sure the residents would agree as I’m sure they don’t want to see Gilcreast Rd from their back windows, or ever for that matter.
I would also not like them to disturb the wetlands across the street. There is no need to put a lake there as I think that might disturb the water table around here which is also something that mortifies me.
I thought you could add these comments to your list of citizen concerns.


Jack
I found the New Hampshire Sunday News’ front page article regarding Londonderry prospering from the widening of I-93 to be interesting. In the story, they state that for Londonderry, “…half of the town’s workers commute to other New Hampshire communities for their jobs. Nearly 30 percent of the town’s workers commute out of state, while 22 percent work within Londonderry.” If that’s true, one heck of a lot of commuter vehicles will be added from 1300 dwellings located in just one small part of town.

Our paid professionals must already have the plan worked out. Otherwise, why would the planning board be rushing to get a master plan approved without having done its homework?

If others in town, who appear ambivalent to the Woodmont issue, don’t get the impact that this development will have on them personally, they will if the plan goes through unaltered.

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  1. +2 Vote -1 Vote +1shannon

    what are we signing for? What is the document?

    1. Vote -1 Vote +1Link

      There is a link in the story “We the People”, click here.”

  2. Vote -1 Vote +1Glenn Douglas

    Last night the Town Council did give direction to the town manager to have the town attorney attend all future Planning Board meetings that involve Woodmont.

    They also discussed spending over 26,000,000 million dollars.

  3. +12 Vote -1 Vote +1Robin

    Jack, Didn’t Any Mack contribute to this by selling his property to the developer of the project instead of making it conservation land for the town? Interesting if he paint a sign against all this now that he pocketed the money and screwed the town over..

  4. +9 Vote -1 Vote +1Martin Srugis

    This is beginning to look like AES all over again! Wild speculation and a lot of demands.
    Question? Are you trying to override the Planning Board? If so wouldn’t that lead to lawsuits?
    I read the questions that were put to Andre, many could not be answered until a site plan was submitted. The questions were too specific to a site plan. Of course, IMHO.

    1. -2 Vote -1 Vote +1Gerry

      Your probably right MR Srugis. By my calculation, a lost lawsuit of let’s say $150M (conservative estimate) in damages would cost the average Londonderry taxpayer of a $300,000 property approximately $1,350. Perhaps that’s a price we should be willing to pay. But that’s just one estimate. If the lawsuit is for $600M then quadruple each taxpayer’s cost to $5,400.

      $0.30 (tax rate per million in expenses) X 150 (lawsuit estimate in millions) X 300 (average cost of Londonderry house in thousands) = $1,350.

      Maybe it’s worth it to get a smaller development.

      1. +3 Vote -1 Vote +1Martin Srugis

        Not in my book, that is why we elect Town Councilors and appoint competent people to the Planning Board.
        If the above happens, that will be the straw that breaks my back, time to move on! If not too late?

  5. -2 Vote -1 Vote +1Sydney

    Put a petition together to prevent those signs from ever going up accross from the schools and I’ll be the first to sign! Not only are the statements out of touch from reality, they’re the black eye of Londonderry…plain and simple.

    1. +9 Vote -1 Vote +1Judy G

      Sydney, whle I don’t like the messages either, shutting down one’s speech because the content is not to our liking is a direct attack on the 1st amendment and would never hold up. If you want free speech you gotta take the good with the bad.

      1. +4 Vote -1 Vote +1David

        Unfortunately none of us own 2/3rds of the land along Mammoth Road in Londonderry to ensure our freedom of speech has a bullhorn.

      2. -5 Vote -1 Vote +1Jim Loiselle

        Protecting freedom of speech is one thing…….supporting hate speech is another.

  6. +3 Vote -1 Vote +1Martin Srugis

    Who determines wheather its free speech or hate speech??
    But, lets get back on topic, Woodmont Commons and the citizens petition!

  7. +3 Vote -1 Vote +1Mac

    Andre Duany and the New Urbanists have been defeated in the past by proactive citizens. It seems from my reading that these developments are often riddled with questionable and controversial actions and some towns have picked up on that and taken action. If you follow the link in my segement of Jacks article (I am Mr. Germany) you will see the famous Mr. Duany making statements that lead us to believe that he thinks the community involvement is just something that gets in the way of progress. IOW, we should get out of his way and let him do what he wants because he knows better than we do.

    One of the towns that did not get out of the was St. Michaels, Maryland. Read this article (http://www.attractionmag.com/articles/miles_point_4_2011.html) and you will see a lot of parallels to the Londonderry situation. You will also see how a proactive community group was able to stand up to the big developers and keep their town from being run over.

    I must also say that a lot the promises made by the new urbanist are marketing ploys that have not come to fruition. We heard Mr. Duany talk about reduced driving, happy communities and ecological benefits. Yet, these results are not being seen in the communities affected by new urbanization.

  8. -2 Vote -1 Vote +1Martin Srugis

    Good story, similar to Woodmont as you said. Question, would the town of Londonderry support a $7 mil dollar purchase (if offered) or as I suspect it will be much more (lawyer costs and such)?
    Whole thing could have been avoided if the family had made a offer to the town. The saga continues!

    1. +3 Vote -1 Vote +1Mac

      I don’t think the issue is developing the land (like it was in St. Michaels). I agree with the mixed use concept. It makes sense to me for the most part. I also agree that the owners had a right to sell the land to whomever they pleased. The big issue here is the density. A new set of rules are being created to accomidate this builder. Everyone else in town has had to live by a certain set of rules, why doesn’t this builder have to do the same? There are too many open ended issues here to give these people a blank check. It’s time for the town officials to do what it is supposed to do, and that is to represent the peopel of this community. I personally feel like this is not being done.

  9. -7 Vote -1 Vote +1Mike

    I can’t wait until they start building. Decades of blocking businesses increases our taxes which everyone screams are to high. Everyone went wild when they wanted to build Home Depot, Taco Bell and KFC. Having them in Londonderry hasn’t changed the Town. For all the uproar AES caused, I don’t think half the residents even know where it is. Robin, How did Mack screw the town? He sold his land.
    Build it and I will come. And let’s work on Route 28 as well.

    1. +3 Vote -1 Vote +1David

      Mike,
      What was the tax benefit to Londonderry from these businesses? Did our taxes go up or down? Just because the businesses did not aesthetically drive the town into ruin, the financial implications must be identified. I would strongly suggest a tax impact study of all the new and expanded businesses in town, say over the last 5 and 10 years and see how we have fared. It certainly is a fair question. If we take Mike Brown’s approach and view things from a pure business perspective, then a financial analysis of our past should help drive our strategic direction of the future.
      Even the Woodmont developer has modified his statement from tax positive to a more negative outlook.

    2. +1 Vote -1 Vote +1Mac

      MIke, having big businesses in town has not brought any tax relief as was expected. In fact, I have watched my taxes climb steadly at a rate much larger than the cost of living in spite of these companies coming to town. The developers of Woodmont have said that the new housing projects will probably be tax negative (which is a change from the original estimate of the housing projects being tax neutral). So the thought that this will bring some sort of tax relief to the town is a misguided idea.

      It is hard to compare Woodmont with Home Depot (or any other business that has come to town in recent years) because they are apples and oranges. Woodmont is bringing with it a population increase of of 25-30%. This increase will bring with it a strain on the infrastructure that the large businesses in town did not. This project will also bring with it an increase of road traffic of several thousand cars a day.

      Let’s also address a misnomer of growth in Londonderry. Although there have been periods of large growth in town over the last 30 years, the past 10 years have shown the population in town leveling off (and actually on a slight decline). Andres Duany said something in the charettes about slowly increasing the town population by a few percent a year which he said was in line with the current growth in town. After the census data we find that he was incorrect. So if our taxes keep rising with a level to negative growth curve, what will happen with a 2-5% increase every year?

      If you think that this housing project is going to bring any sort of tax relief, you are gravely mistaken.

    3. Vote -1 Vote +1Momof2

      Mike,
      Maybe nothing has changed for you, but I can guarantee residents of Gilcreast, Tokanel, Ross etc. sure felt the negative effects. Traffic, nuisance, littering all have increased.

      1. -2 Vote -1 Vote +1Martin Srugis

        How could that be? The apple trees are still there! Nothing has been built.
        What you are seeing is the effect of one acre zoning all over town. Pillsbury and Gilcrest are the cross roads for many sub-divisions in that part of town.
        Remember, the town of Londonderry still has over 2,000 acres of one acre lots! what will traffic be like when these are developed?

        1. Vote -1 Vote +1Mac

          2000 acres of 1 acre lots is a lot more attreactive than 2000 acres of high density lots. Woodmont is creating a presedent that is going ot change the face of Londonderry and Southern NH forever.

          I would argue that the effect of high density/multi use makes an even bigger problem. Think about it. 1300+ dwellings, hotels, malls, business offices and a hospital all on 600 acres. This means approx. 3000 cars just for the people living on the property along with the additional traffic of people coming in to town to shop and work.

          I think it’s irrational to say “sprawl” is an issue when the suggested solution is to create a new kind of sprawl that increases the problem 10 fold.

          1. -3 Vote -1 Vote +1Martin Srugis

            The hospital is a “pipe dream”, that has to go before the state and they have to show a need for such a facility. with Parkland 5 min away and Elliot 15 min away I don’t think you will see a hospital.
            A nursing home with multi-levels of care maybe, sure could use on in town.
            As far as changing the face of Londonderry and SNH, how so?? We will get increased traffic no matter what. What other ways will this change Londonderry and SNH?? I hear a lot of speculation but no hard examples?

          2. +2 Vote -1 Vote +1Mac

            I personally agree that a hospital is out of the question. But they have been touting that since the charettes. Even after being told the circumstances in the area they ignore it. I think people like Andres Duany are so used to bullying their way over communities and getting their own way has given them this attitide.

            Duany also poo-poo’ed the comments about hotels being unneeded. He went on about tax bases and all kind of things but failed to present a reason to supply hotel space in an area where existing hotels don’t fill up. It’s not about reality it’s about the “dream” of new urbanization. It’s about a concept that has never forfilled it’s promise.

            I think they will fight for the hospital tooth and nail. But if it doesn’t happen they will see fit to throw even more housing in to the mix. Just remember that the “plan” basically means they can make things up as they go along.

            You don’t think that a mini-urban area will not change the face of Londonderry? Don’t you think this opens the doors for more of this kind of thing in southern NH? This is more than just a few extra cars on the road. This is more than just a few extra seats filled in the school. This is more than just a few new businesses going in to town.

  10. +2 Vote -1 Vote +1Martin Srugis

    Merry Christmas to all!
    Mike you will get your chance we begin the polling and focus groups on the future of Londonderry. Keep in touch with the Master Planning Steering committee. We need active people like the group above.
    Keeping costs in line requires people attending budget hearings, this is where the bottom line is set. Deliberative session is too late unless you have a hot topic.

  11. -1 Vote -1 Vote +1Steve Homsey

    Mom of 2 is Right on the money! Speaking from experience, here’s what you get. Traffic increases 1000%, Speeding increases 1000%, littering increases 1000%, Taxes increase. And what do you get? Your house devalued! Now that’s a great trade off.

  12. -3 Vote -1 Vote +1George

    This all looks like a silly old man that can’t handle change

    1. +2 Vote -1 Vote +1Mac

      Change? At what cost? At who’s expense? And for who’s profit?

  13. -1 Vote -1 Vote +1Steve Homsey

    George, If your referring to my post. I am sorry if the truth is hard to handle. It’s just reality.

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