Rand Lumber Notes from RCL. Please also view the Town Meeting Minutes.
The Rye Planning Board then conducted a Conceptual Consultation with Wallis Road Properties, LLC for subdivision of the former Rand Lumber property (lots 71 and 66 on tax map 16, a total of approximately 90 acres) to obtain Retirement Community Development (“RCD”) housing, commercial land and open spaces.
Present from the potential petitioner were: John O’Neill (partner and contractor), Ed Hayes (partner and Ricci Lumber representative), Christian Smith (engineer), Larry Gormley (lawyer), and Jamie Long (soil tester).
Wallis Road Properties has obtained an option to purchase the property. The parcel consists of approximately 25 acres close to Wallis Road, and developable land, including the old retail building (commercially zoned at 511 Wallis Road), and approximately 65 acres of back lands that range from dry to wetlands.
John O’Neill, 59 years old, has developed 30 properties in Essex County in MA and Rockingham County in NH. Recently, he developed the Sawyer Green property in Dover, an “Over 55” community of 62 units. In these developments, he supplies all energy and provides facility management.
Mr. O’Neill is proposing that Phase 1 of this project will include 18 “over 55” homes that will have a modest lot and range in price from $350,000 for 1,700 sq ft to $550,000 for 2,400 sq ft. Editor’s note: Mr. O’Neill was unaware that the Rye Planning Board does not have an “over 55” ordinance, rather it has a “62 and over” ordinance. Mr. O’Neill stated that the Rye tax rate is $8 per $1,000 valuation. Editor’s note: in fact it is $11.22 per $1,000 (excluding District assessments). He has proposed that access to the 18 units be from a private road off of Wallis Rd., possibly extended to connect to Patriots Way, currently a cul-de-sac located off of Liberty Common. Four of the units would be located on a dead end street off of the private road.
Mr. O’Neill is proposing that Phase 2 include commercial development of the former retail building. He is open as to the ultimate use, from General Store retail to office space.
Finally, Phase 3 may consider a sale of 65 acres to Southeast NH Land Trust. There are both dry and wet lands on this parcel. Test pits have been dug already, and they are convinced that the land could be developed as well, but, as a gesture of good will, may consider a sale into a Conservation Trust. Editor’s Note: this sale would need a willing seller and willing buyer, and most Conservation Trusts are low on available funds.
Member Mel Low expressed a strong desire for the developers to combine all three Phases and not have a sequential approach. Some discussion occurred about the passage onto Patriots Way, as an advantage for “connectivity”, but a potential concern for the homeowners there. Public safety issues were discussed with regard to the private road, including the ability of fire trucks to turn around. The developers highlighted that Retirement Housing does not put pressure on the local schools and adds to the Town’s tax revenues.
A member of the audience had a question about the 20 test pits that have been dug. The response was that some were taken in the residential development acreage and approximately 10 were taken in the Phase 3 open space/conservation land acreage. In addition, gravel is located on the Rand Lumber property from past activities. Finally, the process to proceed includes multiple steps that need to occur before the Planning Board receives a formal application. Planning Board approval would be followed by Zoning Board approval for Special Exceptions that are required for relief.