Rand (511 Wallis Rd) Site Walk 10-26-2013



Final Revision C – Provided by the Rye Civic League

Present:  Bill Epperson, Mel Low, Priscilla Jenness, Ray Tweedie, Jerry Gittlein, Jeffrey Quinn (alternate)

Also present:  Kim Reed, planning administrator

There were about 30 members of the public present.

Christian Smith of Beals Associates, representing the applicant, conducted the site walk, which began adjacent to the parking lot off of Wallis Rd., just southwest of the barn formerly occupied by Rand Lumber.  Coffee and donuts were provided by the applicant.

Mr. Smith pointed out the location of a proposed rain garden to the left of the entry off of Wallis Rd.  He indicated that the pond would have about a three foot depth.  In response to a question from Bill Epperson, Mr. Smith denied that it would be an attractive nuisance.

Someone inquired as to the sufficiency of the pond.  Bill Epperson responded that a drainage study was part of the package filed by the applicant.  Ray Tweedie pointed out that the Planning Board had hired its own engineer to verify the information.  Bill Epperson indicated that an escrow account had been set up to pay for that.  The engineer understands drainage and will give his professional opinion, he said.

The tour continued following stakes that had been set up along the centerline of the proposed private road through the development.  Mr. Smith held up a color plan of the Retirement Community Development (“RCD”) portion of the site and explained what the audience would be seeing.  The proposed private road proceeds northwest from Wallis Rd. and than turns approximately 90 degrees and proceeds northeast.  It ends in a hammerhead just southwest of Patriot’s Way.  Editor’s note:  At earlier meetings there had been extensive discussions of connecting this road with Patriot’s Way, possibly with a “crash gate” to limit access to emergency vehicles.  This appears now to have been rejected due to resident opposition.  The plan also showed a gravel road in orange ending in a parking lot.  The gravel road proceeds west from the elbow where the private road turns approximately 90 degrees.  Mr. Smith explained that this would provide access for those wanting to park and hike in the remainder of the parcel.  Editor’s note:  The proposal before the Planning Board provides for a merger of two existing lots and then a subdivision into two new lots, the smaller of which is to be devoted to the RCD.  The applicant’s plan for the remaining land is to sell it to a conservation trust, however if that is not successful, the applicant would apply to subdivide the land for approximately 16 single family homes.

            As the property was traversed, Mr. Smith would stop at the various stations that were numbered.  These station numbers appeared to reflect the number of feet along the road, starting at Wallis Rd.  Mr. Smith explained that the road is to be approximately 1000 feet long by 24 feet wide.

Jerry Forte, 4 Patriots Way, asked about fire hydrants.  Mr. Smith explained that the Fire Department requires 300 foot separation, and indicated that an existing hydrant would be relocated.

Mr. Smith pointed to the “granular” soil and the great opportunity for water infiltration.  He also asserted that the RCD lot had a shallow slope of approximately 1 percent and that the street level of the RCD development was downhill from both Wallis Rd. and Patriots Way.  This appeared to be the case, and there were berms around the property on the southeast and northeast sides.  The northwest side is wooded and slopes down fairly rapidly, however this appears to be the portion of the property which is to be placed in conservation, if possible.  Editor’s note:  At prior Planning Board meetings, residents of Liberty Common, which encircles the former Rand Lumber property to the north and east complained about drainage and flooding issues, and expressed concern that the proposed development would make the situation worse.

            As the tour approached Patriots Way, there was a large amount of broken concrete piled there.  It was explained that this would be removed.  Towards the end of the proposed road there is a substantial hill with a fairly steep slope that must be climbed to get to Patriots Way, which some in the group did.

Mel Low asked about the chance of changing the planned hammerhead into a circle to avoid the need for backing up.  He used Elizabeth Ln. as an example of a location where there is a problem.  Mr. Smith responded that there are radius requirements in the municipal code.  Encroachment into the wetlands buffer would need to be proposed to do this, he said. Editor’s note:  Of course the number of units could also be reduced. 

Mr. Low stated that they could ask for an exception on the radius.  Mr. Smith responded that the fire trucks must be able to make the turn.  Bill Epperson discussed the possibility of a teardrop.

A member of the public named John asked about contamination tests.  Mr. Smith responded that a Phase One environmental test looking at soil samples and the water table was done by GZA.  The other person representing the applicant stated that no bank would have loaned money without that.  Editor’s note:  In fact, there is no recorded loan from a bank to the owner.  The only mortgage recorded after the sale to Wallis Rd. Properties LLC (the “mortgagor”) was executed in favor of Edward and Jeanne Hayes, for $1.2 million.  Mr. Hayes signed the same document as manager of the mortgagor (see book 5430, page 841 in the Rockingham County Registry of Deeds). 

            Jerry Forte asked where the crash gate stands.  Bill Epperson responded that the public does not want that.  Mr. Smith indicated that they are proceeding forward on a design without a crash gate.

There was a question about lot size.  Mr. Smith responded that the RCD had no individual lots.  He also stated that there are 7 developed acres and 11 acres as a conservation easement, making the development 60% open space.  It thus complies with the requirements as a stand-alone parcel, contrary to what Attorney Donovan maintained at the hearing in early October, Mr. Smith stated.  Editor’s note:  see section 401.3(P) of the zoning ordinance, which permits 20 units, rather than 16 if there is 50 percent open space.

            In response to a question regarding the size of the units, Mr. Smith replied that the maximum is 1800 sq. ft.  Some may be single floor ranch units.  All will have full basements and drain to daylight.  Someone asked whether there would be foundation drains.  Mr. Smith stated that they would not be needed.  Bill Epperson said that they should be put in, and related his experience with his own house.

Mr. Smith indicated that there would be an option for geothermal heating and cooling.  Bill Epperson stated that it was a good idea, but there is a question of whether it would be open or closed loop.

There was a question about the location of the water table.  Mr. Smith replied that it is 3 to 10 feet down.  Septic plans have been approved for each unit, he asserted.

Mr. Smith stated that the stoves and fireplaces will be propane.  There will be separate septic and geothermal wells for each unit.  The units will be on Town water.  Bill Epperson asked about the size of the mains.  Mr. Smith replied that they would probably be 8 inches, which is the size of the Patriots Way and Liberty Common mains.

Bill Epperson stated that the next event on the application would be at the November 12, 2013 meeting.  He does not currently see a huge obstruction to approval.  Mr. Smith indicated that the target is to start road construction in the Spring of 2014.