20-lot subdivision proposed off Route 119

  • Laurel McKenzie of Jaffrey presents plans for an expansion of the Rindge Memorial School parking lot. Staff photo by Ashley Saari

  • Planning Board Chair Jonah Ketola and Vice-Chair Sam Bouchie discuss a 20-lot subdivision proposal during the Planning Board’s meeting Tuesday. Staff photo by Ashley Saari—

  • A diagram of the proposed Kings Way subdivision, which would be located off Route 119 in Rindge. Courtesy photo—

Monadnock Ledger-Transcript
Published: 6/2/2021 4:02:47 PM

A proposed subdivision off Route 119 in Rindge would create 20 new single-family lots, with a development planned to be built in phases over the next four years.
Kirk Stenersen, owner of Higher Design presented the project to the Planning Board for a major site plan review during its meeting Tuesday on behalf of the developers, Kings Way LLC and owners Shawn Seppala and Rodney Seppala.

The property, located west of the Route 119 and Cathedral Road intersection, would include the construction of a 3,000-foot new road, with an entrance near the former Mobil station and Carol’s Ice Cream.

The owners of Kings Way LLC have reserved three larger lots for their own use, Stenersen said, but the majority of the 20 new lots will be between two and four acres, and meet the town’s standards for single-family homes in lot size and road frontage.

The property is just over 95 acres, currently vacant and wooded, and the lots are intended to be developed in four phases, with five houses built per year through 2024.

While it is the intent of the developers to eventually have the road adopted and maintained by the town, the board said there must be a contingency if the legislative body does not vote to accept the road.

“This is a half mile road. The town might decide it doesn’t want to take on another half mile of paving and plowing, sanding and salting,” said Select Board ex-officio Bob Hamilton.

Stenersen said the developers intentionally chose to approach development of standard lots, rather than use the town’s Planned Unit Residential Development, or PURD, ordinance, which allows denser building on large lots. The PURD ordinance has drawn criticism from residents in recent years who claim it allows too much development, too quickly for Rindge to support, and the Planning Board developed a sub-committee last year to review the ordinance.

Stenersen also acts as the town’s Planning Director, but recused himself on this case and was presenting in his capacity as an engineer for the project.

Some attendees of the meeting said although the subdivision would be using standard lots, and thus have far fewer houses than could potentially be allowed under the PURD regulations, it was still a large development for the town of Rindge, and expressed concerns about water and environmental impact.

Joel Kaplan of Rindge said he was concerned about the impact to wildlife the project has already had and would have in the future, as well as for the rate of growth in Rindge.

“At what rate do we decide Rindge is growing too fast?” Kaplan said. “How big are we planning on growing Rindge and how quick are we planning on doing it?”

Judy Unger-Clark of Rindge protested the potential impact to Rugg Meadow, saying the project “has one of the greatest environmental impact” of any development project to date, and said it would “significantly impact” the wetlands and wildlife on the property. She requested both a wetlands and wildlife study be conducted.

The project is required to have a wildlife study done as part of the state’s alteration of terrain permitting process, and Stenersen said the town would automatically receive a copy of that report.

Conservation Commission Chair David Drouin said the Conservation Commission had reviewed the plans, but was not ready to render an opinion on the project. 

The Planning Board voted to hold a site walk on the property on June 15 at 6 p.m. There will be no discussion of the application at that time, and the board expects to continue the meeting to July 6 at the town offices, during its next scheduled board meeting.

In other Planning Board business Tuesday, the board reviewed plans for a proposed extension of the Rindge Memorial School parking lot.

Laurel McKenzie of Jaffrey, a member of the district’s Facilities Committee, said the new lot will be built adjacent to the current lot this summer, and create 57 paved new parking spaces.

“Anyone who’s attended an event down there will tell you the additional parking is truly needed,” McKenzie said.

When the school is hosting a community event, and also during voting, which is traditionally held in the gymnasium, parking typically spills out down School Street, McKenzie said, which can create a hazard and block emergency vehicles.

The board reviewed the plans and accepted public feedback as required, but by state law, as a government entity, the school district does not require Planning Board approval for the project, and Tuesday’s review acted only as a public hearing for the plans.

In a third case heard Tuesday, the board discussed an expansion of Lock’d Up Storage, a self-storage facility on Commercial Way. The business is proposing to build five additional storage buildings on the property. The Conservation Commission requested to review the project, as the property contains wetlands. The Planning Board agreed to allow the Conservation Commission to review the plans at its next meeting or schedule a site walk, and to continue the hearing until the Planning Board’s next meeting scheduled for July 6.


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