LACONIA — More than a decade after it was first proposed, the 291-unit Langley Cove condominium project received approval from the city Planning Board on Tuesday night, despite concerns from neighbors.
Located on a slope above Weirs Boulevard and across from Christmas Island, the project is the biggest residential development to move forward in the city in years, Planning Director Dean Trefethen said Wednesday.
The land for Langley Cove comprises 64 acres, with half dedicated to buildings and half to open space. Workers will cut down trees to make way for construction and to open sweeping views of Paugus Bay.
Steep slopes make the site a challenge to develop, but they also present good sight lines toward the water, Planning Board member David Bownes said.
“The views will be beautiful,” he said.
The project will also help meet demands for moderately priced housing.
“It will have a mix of housing that will be affordable to upwardly mobile folks,” Bownes said. “It is certainly not exclusively high-end or seasonal.”
The development will largely be composed of attached townhouses and buildings containing dozens of units.
Over a series of meetings, uphill neighbors in the Paugus Woods area said Brady Sullivan Properties, which owns that development and is proposing the Langley Cove project, has not been responsive to their problems with road conditions and drainage.
Access to Paugus Woods is through White Oaks Road. Langley Cove is served by Weirs Boulevard. As the projects are built out, each will require a secondary access for emergency purposes.
That will be accomplished with a road linking the two developments, but Paugus Woods residents didn’t want Langley Cove traffic coming through their neighborhood. A gate will block through-traffic except in case of emergency.
Marc Pinard, general counsel for Brady Sullivan, told the Planning Board that the company has worked closely with the city, including paying for extensive third-party review of plans, to ensure that all concerns were met.
“This has been vetted and vetted and vetted again,” he said. “We’ve done everything we’ve been asked to do.”
He acknowledged there are potholes that have upset some Paugus Woods residents, but he said those would be repaired soon and that the road conditions in that neighborhood are no worse than in other parts of the city.
A finishing coat was never placed on the roads in Paugus Woods, but Pinard said that is not required in the current phase of that project under original city approval documents. A total of 41 homes have been built in Paugus Woods.
Planning Board member Charlie St. Clair urged the developer to bring the Paugus Woods road to a finished condition.
Pinard threatened a lawsuit if the Planning Board sought to make such road work a condition of developing Langley Cove.
The city rejected the Langley Cove project about 12 years ago. At that time, it called for 375 units. Brady Sullivan sought to resubmit the proposal over the years, but it was shelved over Planning Board concerns regarding density, stormwater, water supplies and traffic.
A 30-degree slope also concerned the city.
The project was reinvigorated last year with the developer suggesting retaining walls and other engineering techniques to better deal with the steepness of the site.