BELLOWS FALLS -- A handful of town residents showed up at Rockingham Town Hall on Wednesday with concerns over a landlord's desire to increase by 20 the number of units permitted in the apartment complex he owns.
Jon and Shea McGovern, Peter and Patty Stickney and Louise Luring visited the town hall's Lower Theatre with questions about the project landlord Harold Buchner has proposed for his property on Warner Center Road in Saxtons River. The citizens told the Rockingham Planning Commission and Zoning Board of Adjustment they are worried about how the finished product at the Warner Center will affect the town's character.
Jon McGovern said he does not know what type of units Buchner intends to establish and he is concerned the people who move into them will not be fully invested in the community. Chairman Alan LaCombe said McGovern's latter concern is not part of the board's purview. Later in the meeting, the four members present decided to scheduled a public site visit for 5:30 p.m. on Sept. 5.
The McGoverns and the Stickneys are abutters to the property and Luring attended the meeting because she is the chairwoman of the Saxtons River Village Board of Trustees.
Buchner, who lives in Poughkeepsie, N.Y., and visits Saxtons River every two weeks, explained the project will consist of refurbishments and there will be no additions put onto the six buildings he owns.
"Our concern, as neighbors to the Warner Center, is there is a lot of traffic, people moving back and forth, people you don't get to know that are in the neighborhood for a while.
Buchner, who mentioned he has owned the property for 13 or 14 years, said at least of couple of people who rent his units own businesses and simply keep their supplies and equipment there. He also attempted to explain the issue of the car theft but board members said that was unnecessary because it is not relevant to anything they deal with in his application.
The scope of the application is tricky, because about 15 units are currently rented at Warner Center, but only one has been properly permitted by the town. Buchner wants to get permitted for all the occupied units and a handful of additional ones, bringing the total to 21.
Jon McGovern is also concerned with the number of people the refurbishments will bring, but board members and Rockingham Planning-Zoning Administrator Ellen Howard said maximum capacity is not part of their purview.
Howard later told the Reformer the property used to be the girls campus of the Kurn Hattin Homes for Children.
Domenic Poli can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, or 802-254-2311, ext. 277. You can follow him on Twitter @dpoli_reformer.