Regional planners to study Route 120 corridor, identify improvements

Valley News Staff Writer
Published: 2/12/2020 10:12:59 PM

LEBANON — Transportation along the Route 120 corridor soon will come under the microscope of regional planners who hope to identify improvements to the system of roads connecting Lebanon and Hanover.

The Upper Valley Lake Sunapee Planning Commission will hold two forums later this month where people will be asked to share thoughts on everything from bicycle and pedestrian safety to drainage issues.

“Public participation is a really important part of this,” said Meghan Butts, a transportation coordinator at the commission. “We don’t drive every single road and don’t commute on every single road.”

Butts said the Route 120 corridor is one of eight throughout the Upper Valley that the planning commission identifies as major corridors with regional significance.

Planners hope to perform studies for each corridor and information would be available for municipalities to prepare grants, she said.

Route 120 has several “unique attributes,” including connections to two municipal centers, pedestrian and cycling infrastructure gaps and a system of side roads that people use to avoid traffic, Butt said.

The forums also come as developers are eyeing the Route 120 area for additional housing.

Dartmouth College has announced plans to build a 300-unit apartment complex for graduate students on a 53-acre parcel that the college owns on Mount Support Road, just south of Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center.

On an abutting parcel, Massachusetts-based developer Saxon Partners has pitched plans for a 250-unit complex specifically marketed to hospital employees.

Meanwhile, Vermont-based The Braverman Co. hopes to build a 202-unit multifamily development on the same road.

Those numbers don’t include the 153 units under construction at the Altaria Lebanon Park — a mixed commercial and residential development off of Route 120 — and a 75-unit complex on Etna Road.

Even more changes could be on the way.

Last month, the City Council approved zoning amendments allowing for high-density development of several parcels near the Hanover town line.

The changes allow for multifamily housing on what is now the parking lot of Jesse’s Steaks, Seafood and Tavern, as well as a nearby 40-acre lot owned by Dartmouth-Hitchcock.

Jesse’s co-founder Marc Milowsky requested a zoning variance in 2018 to build a three-story, 40,000-square-foot building on the parking lot. Plans called for a 26-unit condominium complex, a 34-space underground parking lot and 22 additional outside parking spots.

However, Milowsky’s request was denied, 3-1, by Zoning Board members who said the nearly 3-acre lot was too small.

D-H said it hopes to develop new units on the Route 120 corridor to help alleviate a housing crunch.

Tom Goins, D-H’s vice president of facilities, told the City Council that about 800 units are needed to house hospital employees. And another 300 are needed when construction of a new patient tower opens in 2022, he said.

The parcel could hold about 250 apartments, Goins estimated, adding D-H would work to build bicycle and pedestrian access to the hospital.

The first Route 120 corridor forum will be held at 5 p.m. Monday, Feb. 24, inside the temporary City Council chambers at 20 W. Park St. in Lebanon.

A second meeting is scheduled for 10:30 a.m. Wednesday, Feb. 26, at the Howe Library’s Mayer Room in downtown Hanover.

People can find out more and take an online survey on Lebanon’s website, Lebanonnh.gov.

Tim Camerato can be reached at tcamerato@vnews.com or 603-727-3223.




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