Senior Housing Proposed for Former College Dorms

CHESTER – In April, resident and developer Peter Smith met with the planning board to discuss the potential use of the Chester College of New England property for senior housing. Together with Chris Norwood of the NAI Norwood Group, which is marketing the property, Smith explained how he would like to use the parcel, pending variance requests.

At the most recent Zoning Board of Adjustment meeting, Norwood explained that he was in the process of working on a purchase and sale agreement for most of the property. Smith operates a senior facility in Peterborough, but explained that his present plans for Chester were simpler and were to build 32 to 36 independent, one-bedroom apartments, each with a handicapped bathroom, open area and kitchen.

Smith explained that he planned to use Preston Hall and the Adams Building for the apartments, but Nutting Hall and the Lane and Powers Buildings were not part of the project (See related story page 1). Preston and Adams were both previously used as dormitories.

Also discussed in April was setting aside the Wadleigh Building (the library) for town or religious use and turning the green space that fronts the property into a park or recreation area. Also discussed was a potential two-lot subdivision that would front on North Pond Road. The rest of the property would be put in current use for future development or additional senior housing.

Because the town ordinance only allows six units per building, a variance would be needed to follow through with Smith’s plans. Smith also noted, in response to a question from the public, that he’d be asking the town to be real estate tax neutral for two years.

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