40 Condos Proposed for
Silver Lake Road
Forty condos are proposed for Silver Lake Road near Toddy Brook. Concerns are as follows: This project:
Detracts from Hollis's rural character.
High-density developments with units built close to each other reduce the rural character of the town and add many new residents.
Will increase the traffic on Silver Lake Road.
The addition of forty residential units will result in a significant increase in traffic at the site. There are already many condos like this being built just over the border in Amherst and this project is just south of another fifty-two unit development of this type. The additional traffic is sure to burden present Hollis residents with delays and may even result in a traffic light.
Raises taxes on residents by adding forty new households requiring an increase in services. In addition, this development will add children to our schools as existing residents downsize and sell to new families.
The Planning Board determined that the application was incomplete. This is an impactful decision. It seems that the developer may be required to resubmit. The planning board deserves credit for making sure that all required information was provided before accepting the case. This is particularly important since the state just eliminated the normal extension process for Planning Board cases in HB1661 this year.
Public Hearing Sept. 20th at 7:00 PM in Town Hall
Project Still Not Compliant
Required well study not started
The "full water well study" required in the planning staff report of 9-21-21 has not been started!! A 72 Hour well draw down test and monitoring of abutters wells was required. This same test was required PRIOR to conditional approvals of the similar development at Cobbett lane. The planning board must not accept this application as complete. Since the applicant has had one year since the design review, the determination that the application is incomplete has the possibility of ending the applicant's claim to be grandfathered from the zoning ordinance change which would reduce the density of this development. If the application is accepted and the project continues, the planning board is responsible.
The plans show non-compliant intersections in the loop road in two locations.
Each of these is a T intersection with 3 legs. Mike Vignale the town consultant engineer has previously indicated in a letter dated Aug 31, 2021 that the legs of an intersection are required to have < 3% Slope within 100 feet. The newly submitted plans are still not compliant. Will the planning board enforce our regulations or defer to the position of builders to increase profits at our expense? Your testimony at the hearing can sway their decision.
Loop Road Station 10+83 All three legs > than 3% as allowed
Clubhouse Station 11+60 At least 1 leg with 5% Slope is not compliant
Several dwelling driveways have inadequate sight distance
Sight distance on roads designed in Hollis must meet the requirements of our regulation even if it is more strict than the industry Guidelines. Hollis Subdivision regulations require 200 foot sight distance. The submitted plans are non-compliant. Why would the planning board consider waiving another safety requirement just to allow the developer to build more units? The planning board should deny the application. The developer could then submit a compliant project as was requested of them many times prior.
Update 9-20-21: September 7th submittal still has many non-compliances
1. The plans show more than the maximum allowable parking spaces.
41 units have 2 parking spaces 82 spaces for this group
9 units have 1 parking space 9 spaces for this group
Totals 91 spaces Total
Section V.1 A of the site plan regulations lists 1.5 spaces per dwelling as the maximum number of spaces for a Housing for Older Persons Development. This yields a max of 75 spaces.
2. The plans show non-compliant intersections in the loop road in three locations.
Each of these is a T intersection with 3 legs. The town engineer has previously indicated that all legs of an intersection are required to have <3% Slope within 150 feet
Loop Road Station 10 +75 Exact elevations needed to confirm slope
Clubhouse Station 11 +60 At least 1 leg with 6% Slope is not compliant
Spur Station 27+70 2 legs with 6.2% Slope are not compliant
3. Several dwelling driveways have inadequate sight distance
Sight distance on roads designed in Hollis must meet the requirements of our regulation even if it is more strict than the industry Guidelines. Section IV H 3 K of the road standards section of the Hollis subdivision regulations requires 200 foot sight distance for all roads marked with a speed limit of 0 to 39 miles per hour. Many thanks to new board member Mr. Kevin Anderson who pointed this out at the August meeting. Why is the developer proposing that reducing the speed limit will relieve him of the 200 foot requirement?
4. The thirteen road profiles provided do not meet the requirement for 3:1 side slopes on the fill side.
The Board must require the developer to modify the side slopes to no less than 3:1 on the fill side.
5. Unallowable note on sheet SP-1 indicating that changes can be made after the planning process
The developer included a note on sheet SP1 indicating that it would be possible to make changes to the size, type, location, garage configuration, elevation, driveway and utility locations without approval of the Planning Board. This note MUST be removed. The point of the process of site plan review is to make sure these items meet Hollis’ regulations. It is not acceptable for the developer to make changes to these items outside of the planning board process. The planning board MUST make it clear that if an approval is issued on a project the plans submitted MUST be the configuration that is built. If changes can be made after the planning board process then we are all wasting our time.
6. Open Items from my prior engineering reviews in the design review phase have not been addressed
The Board has received many prior letters outlining additional non-compliance with our ordinance. Each of the points in prior reviews as well as the review of an independent licensed engineer still apply to this latest iteration of the design. This includes the licensed engineer’s claim that the road design is UNSAFE. The Planning Board should have the developer provide a response in writing to each concern raised during this design review phase. Issuing a waiver to build an unsafe road just to allow for a 35 foot setback certainly does not meet the conditions for providing a waiver.
A more detailed explanation of the non-compliances in the proposal can be found here:
Plans To Be Reviewed at Planning Board Hearing 9/20/2022
Full Plan Set Below
Planning Board Cancels 4-20 Public Hearing
For at least the third time the Planning Board noticed a public hearing for this project but cancelled the hearing at the meeting. They again sent letters to abutters and posted the notice, but they allowed only the developer to speak then cancelled the public hearing without allowing abutters or town residents to speak. The Board claimed that this was done because the project details were not complete.
This explanation does not stand up to the slightest bit of scrutiny however since the limited level of detail on the plan set was known in advance of providing notice of a public hearing. In addition, it is important that residents' and abutters' input is taken into consideration prior to the board making decisions about a project. At the April 20th meeting, it seems the Board chose to make key decisions about this project without considering input from the many abutters and residents who were in attendance and who prepared comments.
It is disrespectful for the Board to notice a public hearing and have residents arrange their schedules and spend their evening at a Planning Board meeting only to have the hearing cancelled at the last minute for dubious reasons. What would have been the harm in allowing those who set aside time to attend provide information to the Board to assist in their decision making?
Decisions were made at the meeting without the input of Town residents; these decisions have negative implications for the process. First, the Board seemed to vote to allow waivers for the construction of the access road to the site. This access road has been an issue since the project was proposed because of the steep grades on the site. The Planning Board has indicated on several occasions that they wanted to see a plan submitted without waivers to see if a compliant access road could even be built. The developer submitted FOUR plan sets attempting to prove that they could build a compliant access road. Their last attempt at a compliant road was submitted on 1/28/21.
HollisWatch engaged an independent licensed NH civil engineer who reviewed this design and noted several non-compliances. At that time the town engineer incorrectly indicated that the submitted plan was compliant. This was subsequently disproved in the attached, independent report for many reasons, e.g. overly steep grades, etc. Additionally, the town engineer did not include the fact that the proposed, closed drainage system itself requires a waiver.
Without ever considering these challenges to the developer's non-compliant plan, the Planning Board allowed the developer to claim that waivers were needed to move the road further from abutters or the brook. This specious argument neglects the fact that a road up the hill cannot be built at all without waivers. Denial of the waivers could force the developer to downsize the project, so why is the Board not pressing the developer to do so?
Unbelievably, without even addressing the serious concerns raised by a licensed, independent engineer and town residents, the Board seemed to vote 4-2 to allow waivers for the construction of the road. In essence, the Board allowed this fifty-unit condo development to be built when it is clear that the proposed road can not comply with our regulations without waivers from the Planning Board. Additionally, issuing waivers for the road does not help abutters or alleviate the traffic or environmental concerns because had no waivers been issued, the project could have been downsized. The Planning Board is responsible for allowing this fifty-unit condo development to proceed with a non-compliant access road.
In addition, the Planning Board chose not to allow public input when deciding which additional, site studies to require of the applicant. It is not clear why they felt that listening to the abutter concerns was not important at this stage or that a full plan set was needed before they could listen to residents. As a result of this failure to hold the noticed public hearing, several poor decisions were made without public input.
For example, one poor decision was the failure to require a historic site analysis. The developer claimed that they were unaware of material of historic value on site. By not allowing the public to speak, the Planning Board allowed this claim to go unchallenged. In fact, there was a historic dam and mill pond in the area. By preventing public input, the Planning Board failed to require a historic site analysis. Had they availed themselves of the collective knowledge of abutters and town residents, the decision likely would have been different.
Water issues are a significant concern for abutters, but they were denied an opportunity to advocate for a stronger than usual testing program at the meeting. They were not given the chance to advise the Board about wells that have dried in the area and why a more stringent well test is needed. They could have shared this information with the Board if they were permitted. The Planning Board's claim that the plan set was not complete certainly does not justify putting off these important issues or allowing the project to progress without having the opportunity for abutters and residents to express themselves. Who benefitted from the Planning Board's decision to cancel the noticed public hearing?
It is disappointing to see the important processes of the Planning Board degraded and explained away with strained reasoning. The role of the Planning Board should be to represent the interests of abutters, town residents and developers fairly. Prior precedents of fairness and respect for the public's legal right to due process must be preserved. Without basic respect for the rule of law, we will continue to see poor decisions and unfair outcomes–outcomes that are favorable primarily to development interests.
Please write to the Select Board and express your desire for a change at the Planning Board. It is important that all members of the Board prioritize fairness and respect for town residents in the future. Select Board members can be reached by email by requesting distribution to them via firstname.lastname@example.org
The report below explains oversights of regulations made by the town engineer in arriving at his conclusion that the developer submitted compliant plans. It also documents instances where he has contradicted his own prior positions. In addition, it points out omissions from his reference to engineering highway safety guidelines. It is incumbent on the Planning Board to accept the conclusions of the independent third party engineer who has explained the non-compliances with the proposed roadway design. Please read the attached report and tell the Planning Board not to grant waivers for this project. The developer has not shown that they can provide a design that meets Hollis requirements without waivers. The Planning Board has requested such a design and the developer has not produced it.
Why would the Planning Board choose to accept such a contrived position? You can email them with a reminder that interpretation of the zoning ordinance is their responsibility, not the Town Engineer’s. They should interpret the language as it is written. (Stop signs are not mentioned!) Planning Board members can be emailed at email@example.com
The Planning Board has again declined to schedule a public hearing on this project, even though it has been in the design review phase since August of 2020 and the public has never been allowed to speak. How can the Planning Board claim to be responsive to the input from abutters and town residents if it chooses not to allow them to speak? How does such a policy serve the interests of our town? You can explain your thoughts to our elected Select Board who may be more receptive to public input at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Hopefully, we can encourage citizens throughout town to attend Planning Board meetings and to participate in public hearings. High density developments such as this one affect the quality of life we all enjoy here in Hollis.The next Planning Board meeting is on Tuesday, March 16th at 7:00 via Zoom.
The developer for this project has made four attempts to present a compliant roadway design for the construction of 50 condos near Toddy Brook Road. The Town Engineer issued a report indicating that the fourth plan complies with cut and fill requirements. However, when HollisWatch enlisted our own NH licensed civil engineer, several non-compliances and safety concerns were identified. The Planning Board chose to dismiss our engineer’s report based on a contorted interpretation of our regulations as presented by the town engineer. It was incorrectly claimed that the maximum grade at intersections only applies where a stop sign would be placed. There is NO support for this position in the roadway regulation. See the requirement below. How do you interpret this?
HollisWatch enlisted a civil engineer, licensed in New Hampshire, to review the plans submitted by the developer on 1-28-21. The engineer's report identifies three items that are NOT COMPLIANT with Hollis regulations and present safety concerns. The developer has not submitted a compliant design as the Planning Board requested.
Report on compliance issues with the developer's plans submitted on 1-28-21. This report explains the regulations and the proposal in layman's terms so that everyone can understand this process. There are at least eight problems which need to be addressed. Since the developer cannot show that a compliant road can be constructed for a project as intense as this, please advise the Planning Board that waivers for this proposal are not in the spirit of the regulation and would only serve the developer's interest.
The developer submitted another set of plans with compliance issues. Full report to follow soon
Do you think these plans submited 1/28/2021 are compliant?
The developer continues to work with the town engineer and intends to submit a fourth version of this proposal soon.
The developer has submitted a fourth set of plans which were stamped on 10/6/2020. These plans have many compliance issues. A detailed report is posted below. Town residents deserve to hear the developer's positions on these items.
The developer continues to work with the town engineer and is planning on submitting a fourth version of this proposal soon.
Detailed report of Non-compliance with Ordinance and Regulations, including slope maps and road profiles based on the proposed plan. Updated on 8/25/2020 to reflect the Developer's submission of 8/18/2020
Do you think these plans are compliant?
The developer has submitted a third set of plans which were stamped on 8-26-2020. The standard deadline for submission is 2 weeks prior to meetings. These new plans should not be discussed until the Sept 15th meeting so that there is time for abutters and town residents to review them!
These plans received 10-6-2020 still have many compliance issues
Please tell the Planning Board to withhold approval until these issues are addressed by the developer
Do you think the Planning Board should issue waivers for this project?
Why hasn't the developer included the required set aside for a park?
Should this proposal be considered for waivers from our ordinances and regulations?
Detailed report of nine non-compliances with Ordinance and Regulations including slope maps and road profiles. identified in the submitted plan. Updated 8-17-2020
Combined profile of proposed roadway is non-compliant with several provisions of ordinance and regulations
Proposed new development may negatively impact Witches Brook
Existing condos from same developer on Cobbett Lane (off Silver Lake Rd. just north of proposed new condos)
Witches Spring on Silver Lake Road
Prolific Trout Stream Near Proposed Site