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No public hearing needed for Notre Dame changes, Board says

November 13, 2013
BERLIN — Changes eliminating an on-site parking lot have had to made at the service-enriched community housing project to be located at the former Notre Dame High School, explained civil engineer Jay Poulin of Berlin, president of HEB Engineering of North Conway.

The project, which started out under the aegis of Tri-County CAP project but then had to be taken on by the AHEAD (Affordable Housing Education and Development) program headquartered in Littleton, was forced to cut $750,000 in "value engineering," allowing it to come in at $6 million.

Technically the 16 or 17 spaces designed on the sprawling building's east side were not needed under the City's formula of providing one parking space for each three beds. The project included that much parking because it seemed right for the hillside neighborhood and to ensure there would be adequate space for employees and service providers.

The parking spots were to have been created in a challenging location that required costly work, Poulin said, noting that the project still meets zoning requirements.

He sought to bring the change in plans to the Planning Board's attention, hoping they would agree with Director of Development Pam Laflamme's characterization that this was a "minor" change and not a "major" one that would require abutter notifications and a public hearing.

"AHEAD really wants to get started and to finalize its financing package," Poulin said.

Laflamme said, "We're trying to make things work."

Under the new plan, the required east end exit will lead those evacuating in a fire or other emergency into a difficult area that includes a concrete slab.

The planned pellet stove has also been dropped from the working drawings and a propane-fuel system substituted.

Board members agreed that no abutter notices or public hearing is required.

The Board also discussed a proposal of the Fleury-Patry Funeral Home on High Street, located not far from the Hillside and Berlin Middle Schools, to add a crematorium to its other on-site services.

In other action, the Jericho wind farm sought permission to change the location of its transmission line right-of-way out to Route 110 by going on a more direct route at it lower end to the nearest substation over land owned by A. B. Logging of Lancaster. The two companies are apparently now in negotiations, and Board members said that if an agreement should be reached they would approve a new proposed ROW.

The Board also voted on a split vote to send a letter turning down the City Council's request that it take another look at changing the City's rules that prohibit residents from raising a small number of egg-laying hens in yards of a certain size located within the Compact limits. The majority of Board members said that they had already spent a lot of time discussing and researching the question before making their recommendation and that the same issues still remain.

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