Planning Board’s approval of housing project upheld

AMHERST – The Zoning Board of Adjustment decided Tuesday that the Planning Board’s approval of an elderly housing project does not violate any conditions placed on the project by the ZBA.
The Summerfield development, which would border a town water supply, was granted an exception by the ZBA in 2002 with the caveat that developer Rais-Crest abide by four special conditions. One of those conditions was that there be no change in the project’s footprint.
Those opposed to the Planning Board decision argued before the ZBA on Tuesday that there had been a change in the footprint, that the conceptual idea presented to the ZBA last year differed from the site plan approved by the Planning Board in June.
Because a special condition had been violated, the entire project needed to be scrapped and reviewed from scratch, argued those who spoke out at the public hearing.
“We don’t want to stop this development,” said George Woodbury, an energy consultant from Hollis.
Rather, group members are interested in more intensive environmental testing and studies to ensure “we don’t poison the water,” he said.
Chairman of the Pennichuck Brook Watershed Council Allan Fuller and Amherst residents Nancy Scott and Peggy Miller originally filed an administrative appeal of the Planning Board decision in July, citing concerns about possible groundwater contamination from the project.
The condominiums would border the Bon Terrain well that provides drinking water for commercial properties on Route 101A and is the primary water supply for the Amherst Village.
The case has since appeared before the ZBA several times. In August, the ZBA gave appellants extra time to include more legal arguments in their appeal, as it concentrated on factual concerns outside of the ZBA’s jurisdiction.
At a ZBA meeting in October, the ZBA dismissed the appeal with one exception.
It granted appellants the chance to come back and prove that there had been substantive changes made to the plan, the only issue board members felt was in their jurisdiction.
Changes have been made, although the ZBA ruled this week that they were not substantive.
The original concept, as approved by the ZBA, consisted of 84 units that would have been a mix of duplexes and single-family detached condominiums, some of which would have been three-bedroom units.
The plan approved by the Planning Board limited the development to 77 two-bedroom, single-family units.
Lynn Tryba can be reached at 594-6402 or