CONWAY — Ushering in a new era in multi-stage residential design, the Conway Planning Board on July 28 gave unanimous conditional approval to the expansive, 83-acre Ridgeline Community to be developed by Continuum Health Services LLC north of Kennett High in Redstone.
Ridgeline's main 75-acre campus will include a 106-unit assisted living facility, offering progressive levels of care.
Continuum will also offer 31 1,600-square-foot cottages for people 55 and older; 42 units for workforce housing; and 146 non-age-restricted condos that will be sold at market price.
There will also be a medical office building, children’s day-care facility and a bank.
Town officials say Ridgeline is the biggest project to come before the board since the first phase of Settlers Green in the 1980s.
In the planning stages since 2004, the project came before the board for conceptual review on Aug. 9, 2018, according to Shawn Bergeron of Bergeron Technical Services of Conway.
Site plans were presented to the town in May 2021.
The land for the project is being purchased from the Kennett Co.
“We’re very pleased and excited. It has been a long process,” said Joe Hogan, owner of Continuum Health Services LLC of Lewiston, Maine, who was flanked last Thursday by Bayard Kennett, president of the Kennett Co., and project superintendent Mike Black after the approval was voted 7-0 by the board after several waivers were granted.
“We think this will provide much-needed services to the community,” added Hogan.
First to be undertaken is the Cook’s Crossing Condominium. Not only will that provide capital for the rest of the project, removal of fill from that location off a new road to be built west of Eagles Way will be used on other components, Continuum officials said.
The second site plan review, which followed a first meeting on June 23, went smoothly last Thursday, with Planning Board Chair Ben Colbath and fellow member Mark Hounsell saying they appreciated the attention to detail that the developers showed in preparing their plans.
Bergeron and Wayne Morrill of Jones & Beach Engineers of Stratham noted that in response to a request by the board at the June 23 meeting, parking space numbers have been doubled to 10 at a planned gravel parking lot at a bike trailhead to the abutting Upper Saco Valley Land Trust Pine Hill Community Forest.
They said they worked with trails groups, which Colbath commended them for.
Planning board member Eliza Grant asked how many units would be open to local workers versus for on-site medical facility and child-care workers.
“Overall, more than 225 residential units were created across the entire site, including the smaller units for workforce. We have not been able to nail down yet how many of those will be available (to the community),” said Bergeron.
Asked by board member Erik Corbett how long the multi-phased project would take to complete, Bergeron said: “I would guess five to six years. We’re in a weird construction environment and materials situation."
After Grant asked about street trees, Kennett pointed to the abutting Pine Hill Community Forest, where conservation efforts that have been undertaken.
Voting for conditional approval, which expires July 27, 2023, were Colbath, Grant, Corbett, Hounsell, selectmen’s representative Steve Porter, Bill Barbin and alternate Steve Hartmann.
Hogan, a licensed nursing home administrator, told the Sun last year: “Our research showed that many Mount Washington Valley residents found they needed to move away when they were ready to downsize or when they needed some assistance with activities such as meals and house cleaning. Our development will provide a new option unlike anything else in the region.”
Carroll County has the oldest median population in New Hampshire. With baby boomers well into their retirement years, many expect that trend to continue. Despite the aging demographics, the region lacks medical services and senior living options.
According to Continuum's website, its mission since 1999 has been to create "a senior living environment with teams of compassionate professionals who are dedicated to enhancing the physical and emotional well being of all residents and their families.”
Also planned to be built as part of the Ridgeline Community is a biomass power plant to provide electric power. That part of the plan will be reviewed separately.
Consultant Charles Niebling this spring told the Sun that the plant — including the boiler plant, distribution and building heat exchange — would cost about $5 million.
Niebling said the plant would also provide a market for low-grade wood in the region to the tune of 3,000-3,500 tons a year.
The project applied for federal grants for the plant.
For a computer rendering of the scope of Ridgeline, go to ridgelinecommunity.com.