Spofford Lake Association

As noted on the Home Page, the 2019 SLA Annual Meeting this past July 11th was a great success. We'd like to thank the following individuals and businesses for contributing to our raffle. Please support these business. Their support helps us a great deal. 


Peoples Bank   603-363-8335 umbrella, canvas beach bag with supplies

Stowaway Marine   603-256-3048    two USCG life vests

Howard’s Leather   800-427-4038      $25.00 gift certificate 

River Valley Credit Union   800-728-5871   2 golf umbrellas

Chesterfield Inn   603-256-3211    dinner for two

Riverside Hotel West Chesterfield One-night lodging-King room

Manny’s   603-363-4100     $100.00 gift certificate 

Tire Warehouse   855-375-6844      gift certificates total value $125.00

Greg’s Marine   603-256-8111   $50.00 gift certificate for boat service

Big Deal    603-363-4545   Large Pizza with choice of toppings

Justaplain Storage    603-398-3300    50% discount for the 2019 -2020 season

Wondrous Roots, Inc.  Summer Woe Rescue Kit - www.wondrousroots.com

Howard & Elaine Lane   4 tickets to a Red Sox vs Yankees game

Thomas Companies:    VIP tickets to Wyman Tavern Brewfest in Keene   8/3/2019 

Bill & Sue Beauregard    KCC round of golf for 4 w/carts at Keene Country Club

LaChance family   24 bottles of wine



Taken from an article by Bob Audette of the Brattleboro Reformer...

Decision clears way for Spofford Hall demolition


In 2014, the Board of Selectmen appealed a decision by the Chesterfield Zoning Board that granted a variance allowing Nine A LLC permission to replace Spofford Hall with a five-lot cluster development on six of the 30 acres it owns straddling Route 9A. The application calls for the lot sizes to vary, from 0.88 acres to 1.37 acres, and each would support a single-family home. The remaining 24 acres, which are on the other side of 9A, would remain open space. In total, Nine A owns 95 acres of land on Spofford Lake.

In December, the Sullivan County Superior Court ruled for the Chesterfield Zoning Board of Adjustment and Nine A LLC and against the Chesterfield Board of Selectmen.

The 90,000-square-foot Spofford Hall was once a substance abuse rehabilitation center but it was shuttered in 1995 and has stood vacant ever since. It was built in 1980 by John Chakalos, of Windsor, Conn., where Nine A LLC is still located.

In 1999, the town of Chesterfield created the Spofford Lake District, which prohibits cluster development around the lake. The Spofford Lake District covers all lands extending 500 feet from the water line of the lake, with uses regulated by the New Hampshire Shoreland Water Quality Protection Act. While zoning regulations for the town as a whole allow for cluster developments, the lake district regulation does not.

With a ruling from the New Hampshire Supreme Court, the fate of a dilapidated building on Spofford Lake might finally be resolved.

Nine A LLC first applied to build seven houses on the property in 2006, a variance which was denied. The case was appealed to the N.H. Supreme Court, which affirmed the town's denial. However, the Zoning Board assured Nine A that if it came back with a different plan, the board would consider it.

In 2014, the Zoning Board approved a revised plan, by a vote of 4-to-1, to allow Nine A to tear down the old Spofford Hall and go ahead with the cluster development. The Board of Selectmen asked the Zoning Board to reconsider its decision. In a second vote, the Zoning Board approved the variance by a vote of 3-to-2. The Board of Selectmen then appealed the Zoning Board's decision to Cheshire County Superior Court, contending the decision wasn't in the best interests of the town of Chesterfield, before the court forwarded it to Sullivan County due to a conflict of interest.

For more than a decade, wrote Brian Tucker, the presiding justice in Sullivan County Superior Court, Nine A has tried to sell the property, but to no avail. "The building is in disrepair," he said, "with built-up mold that makes it uninhabitable. ... In its present condition, the property serves no reasonable purpose. It is incompatible with existing residential uses in the neighborhood ..."

It is estimated that the cost of tearing down the building and getting the site ready for the construction of homes will cost more than $1 million.

Tucker noted that the Zoning Board approved a six-house site plan to conform as closely as possible to Chesterfield's cluster zoning regulations for the rest of the town

In their appeal, the Selectmen argued that the 2006 denial prevented Nine A from submitting a revised application. Tucker did not agree.

"The decisions made on the 2006 application are specific to that submission, however," noted Tucker. "[T]he outcome of the 2006 case has no bearing on decisions made with respect to the present application."

The Selectmen also argued that the ZBA's decision was contrary to the public interest, a contention that was challenged by William Saturley, a Concord attorney who represents Nine A. Saturley argued that enforcement of the town's lake district regulations against cluster developments would result "in unnecessary hardship" and the project would not "diminish the value" of neighboring properties. Saturley also argued that the variance was "consistent to the spirit of the ordinance."

"Mere conflict" with the terms of the town's zoning ordinance is insufficient grounds to deny a variance request, noted Tucker.

To determine if the variance violated town zoning, the ZBA had to determine if it would alter "the essential character of the neighborhood" and whether it would "threaten the public health." Tucker noted that the ZBA had determined removing a vacant, vandalized, mold-filled building would actually enhance public health, safety and welfare.

The ZBA also concluded that replacing the 90,000-square-foot building and replacing it with five homes would actually result in less traffic and impact on the neighborhood than restoring Spofford Hall "to its previous institutional purpose."

The ZBA also found that the unique circumstances of the building "distinguish[ed] it from other properties in the area ... such that prohibiting a cluster development would be an unnecessary hardship on Nine A's use," noted Tucker. The judge also noted that the proposed lots were actually bigger than 63 percent of existing lakefront properties and that they would "fully conform" to setback and lot coverage requirements as outlined in lake district zoning.

The Selectmen argued that the hardship Nine A was experiencing was "self created," but Tucker disagreed.

"There is no evidence that Nine A was responsible for the building's abandonment or that it had other options for the property," he wrote. "Here, there was evidence ... that the owner tried to find new occupants or sell the property, and that to simply tear down the building without constructing five new homes in a cluster development would be cost prohibitive."

Jon McKeon, chairman of the Board of Selectmen, said he doesn't believe the town will appeal Tucker's decision to the N.H. Supreme Court. However, he noted the board has been in conversation with Saturley to discuss how best to proceed.

"We would be excited to see Spofford Hall come down and the site be cleaned upm," said McKeon. "We are disappointed with the decision because we believe it allows Nine A to overdevelop the site by increasing the density where the town doesn't want increased density."


From the NH Business Review (Oct 28,2018); interview withTom O'Brien, President of NH Lakes (www.nhbr.com/October-26-2018/Q-A-with-NH-Lakes-President-Tom-OBrien/ )


Q. What is the purpose of NH Lakes?

A. We work to promote clean water policies and responsible use, and to inspire the public to care for our lakes. Without an intentional approach to maintaining the health of lakes, they will age more quickly, some within our lifetimes.

Q. What do you mean by “aging?”

A. We think of lakes as living things that have a natural life cycle with a beginning and an end. New Hampshire’s lakes were created by glacial activity about 10,000 years ago, so they are young, geologically. A young lake is clear and has very little organic matter and high levels of dissolved oxygen. Over time, lakes essentially begin to fill in with decayed plant matter and sediment from the adjacent landscape. What we do around lakes, and how we do it, determines the rate at which they age.

Q. What are the main threats to New Hampshire lakes?

A. Over the past 40 years we’ve been dealing with two primary threats: the influx of aquatic invasive species and the widespread and, we think, ultimately more lethal threats of polluted runoff from the developed landscape, which is changing the lakes right before our eyes. Added to these are weather changes that are warming lake temperatures and changing precipitation patterns. In the past 40 to 50 years, some lakes have gone from a cold water fishery to a warm water fishery.

Q. By invasives, do you mean milfoil?

A. Exotic milfoil is the poster child, since it’s the most common invasive plant in our lakes. About 85 lakes have a milfoil infestation of some size. But there are other invasive plants and animals.

Several New Hampshire lakes and rivers contain Asian clam infestations. Zebra mussels are in Massachusetts, and last year they were found on a sailboat that was about to enter Lake Sunapee. It had last been in the water on Lake Champlain, albeit several years prior. Chinese mystery snails occur in an uncounted number of lakes.

See the entire article using the URL above. 


3. Spofford Hall Property  

 

This past fall the Court ruled in favor of Route 9A LLC, the owner of the former 'Spofford Hall'. The judgment allows the owner to subdivide the six-acre site into five single-family home parcels.


The final agreement between the town and the property owner has not yet been completed. Specific information regarding the property's development will be forthcoming upon completion of the agreement. 


 To remain abreast of developments, members should refer to the Board of Selectmen meeting minutes, available on the Town's website

 







The Spofford Lake Association Board meets monthly, generally April through October. If you are interested in these meetings, or have news you wish to share, please email us with your requests.