CHESTERFIELD, N.H. -- The town's Zoning Board of Adjustment voted by the thinnest of margins Tuesday to rehear an application to subdivide the Old Spofford Hall property following an appeal from the Board of Selectmen.
In January, the selectmen presented an official request to the Zoning Board to hold a rehearing of the application made by Nine A LLC, the owner of the Route 9A property, because they feel the decision to grant a variance and allow for a cluster subdivision on the land goes against the best interests of the town. Chesterfield ZBA Chairman Burt Riendeau and members Harriet Davenport and Alternate Lucius Evans voted to go through the whole process again while Andy Cay and Renee Fales voted against the motion. It is unclear when the rehearing will be scheduled for.
Riendeau said the ZBA has 30 days from the receipt of the appeal to grant or deny a rehearing, which will allow for new information that was not available at the time of variance's acceptance in January.
William C. Saturley, Nine A LLC's attorney, told the Reformer on Wednesday he and his clients look forward to continuing their productive relationship with the Zoning Board. He said he has been through several hearings with the ZBA members and praised "their patience, their diligence and their hard work," which he said he has a great deal of respect for. He said Tuesday's decision is "an unusual step for a process like this" but he plans to study the various New Hampshire state statutes the board abides by and offer some suggestions on where to go from here. The ZBA's next meeting will be held in March, after Town Meeting Day.
Nine A LLC had asked for the variance in order to split the roughly 6.18-acre site into five parcels that development consultant Jim Phippard, of Brickstone Land Use Consultants, calls a cluster subdivision. Phippard previously told the Reformer the lots would vary in size, from 0.88 to almost 1.4 acres. He also said Nine A LLC had to apply for the variance because the Spofford Lake District, which was formed in 1999 and covers the former Spofford Hall property, does not allow for cluster subdivisions.
According to the original application, the residential cluster would be made up of five lots on 30 acres of land.
Spofford Hall, which Phippard said consists of nearly 99,000 square feet of floor space, was once used as a substance-abuse rehabilitation center starting in the 1970s. It remained in operation for nearly 20 years and has fallen into disrepair since its closure. It is filled with hazardous stachybotrys, more commonly known as black mold. According to the application for a variance, a 2007 estimated cost of remediating the mold ranged from $885,000 to $1,180,000. The building is considered by many to be an eyesore.
Saturley told the ZBA in October 2013 that the variance is in the public's best interest, as it would remove a non-conforming building from the residential zone. He has said the building there now is incompatible with the single-family homes in the neighborhood. The proposed cluster subdivision would blend in nicely with other homes in the area. Saturley told the Zoning Board the variance is consistent with the spirit and intent of the respective ordinance, as no septic systems will be placed within 500 feet of Spofford Lake. The leach fields on the opposite side of Route 9A will be used for septic disposal and, therefore, all waste will be placed outside the Spofford Lake District. Saturley said the lots will be developed to conform with the district's setbacks and lot-coverage requirements.
He said the Chakalos family controls the company but was unsure how its makeup has shifted since the Chakalos family patriarch, John Chakalos, was found dead in his Windsor, Conn., home on Friday, Dec. 20. A medical examiner ruled the death a homicide. Saturley said the death is a family affair and he is not in a position to talk about it.
Domenic Poli can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, or 802-254-2311, ext. 277. You can follow him on Twitter @dpoli_reformer.