Portion of College Land Gets OK for Business

CHESTER – A small portion of the Chester College of New England property is one step closer to a new use, after a Zoning Board of Adjustment (ZBA) decision last week. Phil Cassista wants to buy a portion of the college’s property to run a microelectronics company, and met with the ZBA June 19 to seek a special exception for the residentially zoned site.

Cassista’s application went through smoothly. The ZBA asked several questions and expressed confidence that the intended use was compatible with the area. Representing the college, TF Moran, Inc., also met with the board that night for variance requests, but that application went less smoothly (see story page 1).

The college has a special exception to operate within the General Residential and Agricultural District, but any other commercial use on the approximately 70 acres needs a special exception or rezoning of the land.

Aside from special exceptions, allowed for in the district are single and two-family dwellings, cluster development, home occupations/home businesses, churches, educational institutions, kindergarten and childcare centers and general farming and forestry.

Cassista is looking to use Nutting Hall on a subdivided 2.17 acre parcel as office space for his currently Nashua-based technology firm Impellimax, and a moonlight profession of building and selling specialty electric harps. Cassista explained that his business, which currently employs eight workers, would have no impact on the exterior of the building. He said Impellimax produces no sound that would travel outside of the building, and no environmental hazard was posed by its small use of very low hazard chemicals.

“It’s a very benign business and I think it would fit well,” said Cassista. There is minimal traffic except for employees. UPS delivers a shoebox size container of parts about once a week, explained Cassista.
Impellimax has been in business since 1986 and has been in Nashua for 15 years. Cassista explained that no issues with the public have arisen or complaints registered in that time.

Cassista suggested that his intended use of the building would have less impact than the college’s use and added that he has a vested interest to keep his impact positive, as he lives only about a mile away.
ZBA members and neighbors on Chester Street had questions about noise, chemical use and water use, all of which were answered to the ZBA’s acceptance.

There was concern among the board about business growth in coming years, despite Cassista’s saying he didn’t foresee increasing employment substantially. Members were also concerned about setting a precedent or inadvertently allowing a noxious business into the site, should Impellimax close, but included conditions to avoid those issues.

The board unanimously approved the variance request with the following conditions: There can be no more than 12 on-site employees, the business must remain a small quantity (chemical) waste generator, there is no outside storage of materials, and the site must abide by residential sign specifications, not the town’s commercial ones. The next stop for Impellimax is the subdivision approval process with the planning board.

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