CHESTERFIELD, N.H. — After about an hour of discussion over a change-of-use application, the Chesterfield Planning Board approved New England Heritage’s plan to renovate the old town office on Route 63 and turn it into a coffee shop.
The town will be leasing the 2.77 acre property for 99 years to Dylan Eastman and Gabriel Jones, who will be purchasing the building itself for $1.
“The lease agreement requires the purchaser to bring the exterior condition of the building back up to what it once was,” explained Gary Winn, chairman of the Board of Selectmen, during the Monday night online meeting.
Some board members asked why the change-of-use application didn’t include any details on the interior renovations required to turn the first floor into a coffee shop and the second floor into space for short-term rentals.
“This narrative deals with the outside appearance,” said Eastman. “It doesn’t go into detail about everything that needs to be done. That will be presented to the building department ...”
Winn said it’s up to Eastman and Jones to work with the town’s building inspector to insure they comply with all safety regulations and town building requirements.
There was also a discussion on why the lease line delineated on the site description went right up to the edge of Route 63.
“We are not going to mow this lawn,” said Winn. “That’s their responsibility.”
In all reality, said Winn, the actual property line is probably four to five feet back from the road, but the town has maintained the property right to the edge.
“If we did not put the lease line to the edge of 63, we would have to mow it,” he said. “We needed to designate an area that was their responsibility.”
Eastman and Jones said there is no plan to sell tobacco products or alcoholic beverages in the coffee shop because of its proximity to Chesterfield Elementary School.
“There is no reason to have an ABC license,” said Eastman. “We have no goal or desire to have it there. It’s not conducive to that property or anything around that property.”
Eastman also noted that no trash will be left on site. Each day at closing, the trash will be removed.
Town Clerk Barbara Girs noted that all of the comments on a recent Facebook post related to the Monday hearing were positive, except for one.
“And that one was just asking a question,” she said. “There is tremendous support for this within the town.”
The change-of-use application was approved with conditions, including that the use-intensity statement have a note that no alcohol or tobacco products will be sold and the location of a potential sign be indicated on the site plan.
Built in 1850, the Marsh House served as the town offices for more than 30 years until 2007, when the town moved to a new building just past the Chesterfield Fire Department on Route 63.
Since then, the building, which the town owns, has sat vacant.
Renovation of the building is expected to cost between $300,000 and $400,000 and during Town Meeting 2018, voters declined to authorize $30,000 to demolish the building.
Jones is a former member of the Gilsum Board of Selectmen and Eastman is the owner of Monadnock Design Studio and Keene 3-D, which gives virtual tours of real-estate properties. He designed the New England Sweetwater Farm and Distillery in Winchester and owns the nearby Silver Arrow Winery. Eastman also designed the offices of Montshire Pediatric Dentistry on West Street in Keene, N.H.
According to the Keene Sentinel, Eastman, who has lived in Winchester since 2016, was hired as the design and build manager for HGTV’s “A Very Brady Renovation” and also spent eight years working with both the DIY Network and HGTV on various renovation shows, including “House Crashers,” “Rescue My Kitchen” and “Desperate Landscapes.”