We won! Thanks to your help and thoughtful comments to the Commissioner of the N.H. Department of Transportation, Lyme has succeeded in convincing the DOT to drop their insistence for a three lane Route 10 between the two entrances into River Park. This has been a long and expensive process, but I feel strongly that the two lane option approved by the Lebanon Planning Board is the correct decision and one that allows the traffic impacts of River Park to be appropriately mitigated.
In return for the DOT eliminating the three lane option, Lyme Properties, on behalf of XYZ Dairy, has agreed to pay $250,000 to the DOT for the replacement of a box culvert north of our site on Route 10. This “mitigation fee” is in addition to the $350,000 that XYZ Dairy has agreed to pay the City of Lebanon to improve traffic controls and turn lanes in downtown West Lebanon, especially at the Bridge and Main Street intersection. Both decisions are good for the entire phased development of River Park that was approved by the Lebanon Planning Board.
Equally important, the N.H. DOT has finally acknowledged in writing that the original scoping decision by the department resulted in a traffic projection by Holden Engineering, our original traffic consultant, that was excessive. The DOT has now accepted the revised Traffic Impact Study prepared by VHB which projected lower trip generation volumes and a different trip distribution projection. In a letter to me from the Commissioner, he stated: “The revised traffic volumes represent a 22% to 29% reduction as compared to the volumes submitted in the original Traffic Impact Study prepared by Holden Engineering.”
This is an important finding and one that I feel more accurately reflects the traffic flows generated by the mixed use plan for River Park. Our Master Plan for smart growth, phased development program, outreach to Advance Transit for an intermodal bus stop and park and ride facility, coupled with our response to our neighbors on Crafts Avenue to eliminate access to the commercial portions of River Park from this residential street have resulted in a transportation strategy that will set a new standard for responsible economic development in the Upper Valley.
None of this could have been accomplished without the support of our neighbors. Your participation in our planning process, petition for zoning changes within the site, and support for the Site Plan and Sub-division applications has demonstrated a new model for public/private partnerships. Your support has been personally gratifying and Lyme reiterates our commitment to developing the site in a responsible manner.
As I have stated previously, the approval of the northern entrance to the River Park site was a gating issue for the development going forward. I will now expedite the completion of the construction drawings that will fulfill the conditions of the N.H. DOT and the Lebanon Planning Board regarding traffic and infrastructure improvements, all at private expense. The Route 10 improvements will be accomplished within the State’s existing Right of Way, except where XYZ Dairy will grant easements for the roadway improvements that impact our property instead of the neighbors. This is a good result.
In the near future, Lyme will go back to the Lebanon Planning Board for any necessary amendments to the Site Plan and Sub-division approvals for River Park to make the local conditions consistent with the state conditions. These are minor and I do not anticipate opposition. With the recent appointment of David Brooks as the Director of Planning in the City, we believe his intimate knowledge of the planning approvals for River Park will assist in eliminating any loose ends.
Thanks again for your continued support. As always, do not hesitate to call or email me if you have questions.