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Developer withdraws housing plan



Valley News Staff Writer
Sunday, July 14, 2019

NEW LONDON — A Maine-based developer who had proposed a 40-unit workforce housing development in New London has pulled its application for a variance from the Zoning Board.

The move came one week after the board held a hearing on the variance request to allow the developer Continuum Health Services to construct multi-family housing in the R2 zone, in part to accommodate workers for a senior living facility Continuum is constructing near New London Hospital.

The board had asked Continuum for more information and was set to continue the hearing on July 16, but that is now canceled.

“It might behoove New London to spend some more time working through their interpretation (of a state law requiring that New Hampshire municipalities allow for ‘reasonable and realistic opportunities’ for the development of affordable housing) versus having to have us be at the helm of that discussion,” Sarah Adams, Continuum’s director of sales and marketing, said in a Tuesday phone interview.

Continuum’s project faced opposition from residents of the neighboring 147-unit Hilltop Place condominium development who, according to draft minutes, spoke up at the July 2 hearing to express concerns about the density of the project — which was proposed to include eight buildings of five units each on property currently owned by the Dorothea G. Bewley Revocable Trust that sits near the roundabout on Newport Road in between downtown New London and Little Sunapee Lake.

Other concerns expressed by Hilltop residents included potential effects on traffic and on property values, as well as questions about safety such as the ability of a fire truck to turn around in the driveway, according to the draft minutes.

Continuum’s Peterborough, N.H.-based attorney, James Callahan, told the board that the location — within reach of municipal water and sewer, and within walking distance of the hospital and the planned senior living development — and density were necessary to keep the units attractive and affordable to working families.

“What we’re faced here with is an obvious need for workforce housing … Also (on the) other side, legitimate and serious concerns,” said Zoning Board Chairman Doug Lyon, who also chairs the board of New London Hospital.

The Upper Valley Lake Sunapee Regional Planning Commission has found a shortage of about 5,000 affordable units in the Upper Valley. The project would have been the first of its kind in New London.

Though the property where Continuum had proposed the workforce housing development is close to a part of the town where multi-family buildings are allowed, it’s “not close enough,” Zoning Administrator Nicole Gage said.

But, given the need for affordable housing across the region, Gage said she hopes Continuum comes back.

“We look forward to hearing how we will be working with them in the future,” Gage said.

Continuum has an option on the property through the end of the year, Adams said.

Valley News Staff Writer Nora Doyle-Burr can be reached at ndoyleburr@vnews.com or 603-727-3213.