Petition submitted to oppose development in Manchester's South EndBy PAUL FEELY
New Hampshire Union Leader
September 18. 2017 8:13PM
MANCHESTER — If city aldermen want to approve a luxury townhouse rezoning request in the South End when they meet next month, it will require the support of two-thirds of the members on the full board, after residents submitted a petition opposing the planned development.
Members of the Aldermanic Committee on Accounts, Enrollment and Revenue Adminstration voted 3-2 Monday to send the rezoning request from developer William Socha to the full board with a recommendation that it ought to pass and be enrolled. Voting in favor were Alderman At Large Joe Kelly Levasseur, Keith Hirschmann of Ward 12 and Ron Ludwig of Ward 2. Opposed were Tom Katsiantonis of Ward 8 and Tony Sapienza of Ward 5.
The request is to approve rezoning three privately held parcels from single-family to suburban multi-family.
In response to criticism of his initial plan, Socha has in recent months reduced his project from 200 units to 165, and increased the size of the buffer.
Socha believes the development will produce $23 million in construction and generate $1.1 million to city coffers in the first year and $600,000 every year after that in local property taxes.
Residents of Lucas Road and South Mammoth Road who oppose the development have submitted a petition to the city’s planning department that includes signatures from more than 20 percent of property owners located “within 100 feet immediately adjacent to the area affected by the change or across a street from such area” — thereby invoking state statute 675:5, which requires a favorable vote from two-thirds of the full board to pass.
According to city planner Leon LaFreniere, a petition submitted by neighbors in August failed to achieve the 20 percent threshold. But a second protest petition submitted Sept. 11 included the name of an individual who recently purchased property at Lot 798-1A. The previous owner had supported the project, according to LaFreniere.
The addition of the new property owner’s name to the petition pushed the amount of nearby property owners signing the petition to 22 percent.
Residents of Lucas and South Mammoth Road oppose the project because they believe it would forever change one of the last rural sections of the city.
Katsiantonis said he met with Socha and said “if nobody complains” he would have no problem with the project.
“But since a majority of people are complaining about it, it’s hard for me to support this,” said Katsiantonis. “I hope that my colleagues that I have supported in what they want — I hope my colleagues will support me on this.”
Sapienza’s brother, Ed Sapienza, is one of three candidates running in today’s municipal primary election to replace Katsiantonis as Ward 8 alderman. He has stated his opposition to the project.
The final vote on the rezoning won’t come until the next full board meeting in early October.