Developer pitches nearly 500 apartments for former brickyard site, near Lebanon schools

A proposed 10-building residential project is located across from Lebanon High School in Lebanon, N.H., on Hanover Street. (Courtesy City of Lebanon)

A proposed 10-building residential project is located across from Lebanon High School in Lebanon, N.H., on Hanover Street. (Courtesy City of Lebanon) — Courtesy City of Lebanon

By ELLE MULLER

Valley News Correspondent

Published: 07-06-2024 5:01 PM

LEBANON — A developer, who has taken pains to address concerns about wetlands and traffic, is seeking city approval of a 474-unit apartment complex at the site of a former brickyard on Hanover Street.

The proposal is for 10 four-story residential apartment buildings over vehicle parking, totaling 473 rental units. There also will be a residential unit for the on-site property manager. An additional building is proposed at the northeast corner of the site, which would contain the development’s leasing office and maintenance shop. In addition to the buildings, there are proposed “amenity spaces” such as a walking path along Densmore Pond and a dog park, according to the current project description. 

The applicant, Richard M. Marchese, trustee of Brickyard One Nominee Trust, is seeking the Planning Board’s approval of a conditional use permit to allow an increase in the maximum permitted building height from 45 feet to 55 feet, according to the City of Lebanon Planning Board Legal Notice. Marchese did not respond to a request for comment.

The proposed site, across the street from Lebanon High School and Hanover Street School, is in a wetland conservation district and a high-volume traffic area. 

This apartment proposal first underwent a conceptual review in 2022, where the applicant received feedback on the plans. The public concerns surrounding the project included its potential impact on wildlife and traffic congestion, according to Valley News reporting at the time. 

Since the conceptual review, the project has been revised to address the early concerns, according to Tim Corwin, the Lebanon deputy planning and development director. 

“They designed the development to really minimize their wetland impact,” Corwin said. “They will be crossing a narrow band of wetland in one location but I think that’s it. The impact is small enough that it doesn’t require any local approval.” 

According to the project description, the wetlands have been respected and the effects minimized. Corwin noted how the current proposal has taken the wetlands and conservation into further consideration.

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“They have been conscious,” Corwin said. “They purchased another property to add onto the property so they could reroute one of the driveways.” 

VHB, a development firm in Burlington that is managing the project, revised the initial 2022 plan after the conceptual review. They hired wetland scientist Scott G. Goddard, of Goddard Consulting based in Northborough, Mass., to aid in minimizing the wetland impact of the project. Goddard did not respond to a request for comment. 

Using the brickyard site would bring more traffic onto Hanover Street and neighboring Interstate 89 and Route 120. The proposal includes a looped driveway that will be accessed via two full-service curb cuts along Hanover Street. 

While the closest neighboring businesses have closed or begun moving, including Comcast and Willowbrook Prosthetics and Orthotics, Hanover Street is still home to Lebanon High School and Hanover Street Elementary School. Given that, traffic is expected to be most congested during school pickup and dropoff times.

Amy Allen, Lebanon’s school superintendent, did not respond to requests for comment this week. 

VHB conducted a traffic study, included in the application, where they propose to install an all-way stop at the intersection between Hanover Street, Evans Drive, and the proposed south site driveway, to aid in traffic control. 

“It’s safe to assume that traffic is going to be a concern of the neighborhood and the Planning Board,” Corwin said. 

Prior to the proposal to build an apartment building at this site, a previous proposal for an intermodal transportation facility was rejected. In 2010, that facility was proposed to serve as a park-and-ride site for Upper Valley motorists, a transfer point for local commuters such as the Advance Transit riders, and an intercity depot served by the Dartmouth Coach and Greyhound buses. With that project, similar to the apartment proposal, city officials and residents were concerned about an increase in traffic. 

The current proposal, however, aims to address the demand for housing in the Upper Valley, a need that mirrors the national housing crisis, Nate Reichert, Lebanon planning and development director, said. 

“It’s as simple as we need more places for people to live,” Reichert said. 

The Keys to the Valley survey conducted in 2020 by the Upper Valley Lake Sunapee Planning Commission, the Two Rivers-Ottauquechee Regional and Mount Ascutney Regional Commissions of Vermont found that the Upper Valley will need an estimated 10,000 homes by 2030 to meet the demand for housing. 

The survey also identified a series of action areas to address the challenges in the region such as: “make it easier to build homes,” “build smart for economic health” and “create the types of homes the region needs.”

Corwin highlighted the choice that this property would offer potential residents who are in need of housing options that do not exist in the Upper Valley. 

“They’re mostly three-bedroom units,” Corwin said. “If housing is a spectrum of choices, the proposal to add a large number of three-bedroom apartments, I think, adds one more housing choice.”

Corwin said that the project is currently undergoing internal reviews on the staff level and it has not been heard yet by the Planning Board. If the proposal is determined complete at Monday’s board meeting, public hearings will commence and continue on Aug. 12 to give more people an opportunity to share their thoughts. 

“What that does is it starts the clock for when the planning board needs to make a decision,” Corwin said.

Elle Muller can be reached at daniellewingmuller@gmail.com.