Senior Housing Development Comes in Smaller for College Site

CHESTER – At the planning board’s Dec. 4 meeting, local developer Peter Smith presented a different plan for his potential use of the former Chester College of New England property.
Smith does not yet own the property, but has been working with the college and the planning board in recent months with his plans to make the property into homes for the elderly. And while his previous designs would have had him renting out units and creating assisted living facilities, his latest effort is geared toward building and selling units outright.

The planning board has hired consultant planning company The Better Future Alliance to help it navigate the property’s development, whether Smith ends up purchasing it or not.
Both the developer and the planning board have been struggling with the process because Chester’s ordinances are geared almost solely for single family home construction, and thus anything that veers from that would require many variances.
The major concerns of the planning board are with the density represented in the plan and the variances that would be required. The kinds of plans Smith has presented don’t have a precedent in town, though many have stated their opinion that elder homes would be a benefit.
The latest plan about halves the number of units from the 289 presented earlier in the year, but is still higher than the 85 that current rules would allow.
On a request by the conservation commission, Smith will be presenting his plans to that group at its Tuesday, Dec. 10 meeting, after the Tri-Town Times goes to press.

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