LONDONDERRY — A variance allowing developers of a proposed work force housing community on Trail Haven Drive to construct up to seven buildings per year was granted during Wednesday night’s Zoning Board of Adjustment meeting.
The proposed townhouse community, which would be entirely rental units, still has a ways to go before final approval. The project will next go before the Conservation Commission, Heritage Commission and Planning Board.
But Robert Tourigny, executive director for NeighborWorks Southern NH, said he has high hopes for the project, which if completed would become the first community of its kind in Londonderry.
While the town Workforce Housing Ordinance states that developments are limited to adding a maximum of 48 units and three buildings per year, the variance granted by the ZBA this week will allow for phasing of the same amount of units spread across up to seven buildings per year.
Susan Manchester, an attorney representing NeighborWorks, said the nonprofit organization doesn’t intend to build more than 48 units per year, but does hope to build townhouse-style units spread across smaller buildings.
Manchester said similar projects have been successfully developed in Hooksett and Goffstown and the concept has proven more appealing to residents.
“It has a homey feel, a better overall ambiance,” Manchester said.
NeighborWorks, a 501C3 nonprofit promoting affordable housing, receives its funding through both private and public sources, with most of the rental properties owned by private, limited partnerships.
A similar community is currently under construction in Amherst, Manchester said.
Tourigny said the Londonderry project has been in the works for quite a few years now.
“This project would fit quite well into this community,” he said. “Right now there are so many people who work in Londonderry but can’t afford to live there. This would provide the chance for these people to live in the communities they work in.”
Conceptual drawings were first shared with the Planning Board in late 2012.
Tourigny said the rental townhouses would each have two to three bedrooms.
“The smaller buildings tend to be more attractive and would likely enhance property values,” Manchester added. “They certainly won’t decrease them.”
Still, several neighbors expressed some reservations.
Al Lampson, who lives in the nearby Parish Hills condo community, said the surrounding swamp area might pose safety issues for children living in a work force housing community.
“It’s pure swamp in between us,” Lampson said.
Mammoth Road resident Pauline Caron said she was worried about additional traffic the project might cause.
“But I do think smaller is better than bigger, because I don’t want to see any more 24-unit buildings coming to town,” she added.