CHESTER – Representatives from Chester College of New England met with the planning board just days after the town voted against purchasing the college property.
The former college is looking to subdivide the approximately 70 acres it owns in the center of Chester, and sent representatives to the planning board May 22 to gauge its response to dividing the property into three pieces.
Voters at Town Meeting decided that the $2.6 million price tag for the property was too much and tabled an article that would have allowed the town to purchase the property and control its destiny more directly than with zoning ordinances and subdivision regulations.
At a meeting in January with the town, legal representation from the college indicated the bank that owns the property was not interested in subdividing, as the property was worth more whole.
Robert Duval, president of TF Moran Inc., presented the college’s plans to the board. According to discussions at the May 22 meeting, the college has a definitely interested buyer in only one portion of the property, but is looking to subdivide to prepare for future purchasers or plans.
The plan presented would subdivide the Nutting-Dalrymple Center area – the portion of the college closest to the municipal building – and the Lane and Powers buildings at the southeastern corner from the rest of the acreage. The Nutting-Dalrymple portion falls within the town’s zoning requirements with 2.07 acres and enough frontage, but the Lane/Powers portion falls shy of those requirements.
Duval explained that the college would like a variance from the town’s 2-acre, 290 feet of frontage requirements for the Lane/Powers portion. The benefits of that variance, he said, would be in keeping the green area located in the center of the front of the property intact, as well as providing more flexibility for future use of the large parcel.
The Lane/Powers section as presented would be 1.1 acres and have 175 feet of frontage.
Interest in the Nutting-Dalrymple Center comes from Chester resident Phil Cassista, who currently runs Impellimax, a technology firm in Nashua. He had previously said his intended use for the building was low impact and would result in an unchanged exterior of the historic hall.
Duval gave suggestions for use of the large piece, including a through road to North Pond Road and building lots there, but emphasized that all ideas were presented merely to let board members visualize possibilities, not because they were coming down the pipeline.
Planning board members didn’t object to the ideas presented, but conceded that variance approval from the Zoning Board of Adjustment (ZBA) first had to be obtained. Member Liz Richter expressed approval of the plans presented.
Duval explained that after meeting with the ZBA, the next step was to meet with the state Department of Environmental Services to discuss the property’s water and septic systems. Portions of the property, even after they’re subdivided, would need to utilize a common water and/or septic system.
Planning board member Cass Buckley questioned what was at the root of the subdivision request. Duval explained that it was to sell off a portion of the property.