June 4, 2009
Request To Tear Down Home Denied 

GOFFSTOWN - The Goffstown Historic District Commission rejected a man’s request to tear down his North Mast Road home Wednesday, but will allow him to demolish a garage and barn on the property.

The home, built sometime around 1850 and owned by Robert E. Naser, is part of one of Goffstown’s three historic districts. Among those three districts, there are 13 historic structures, ten of which are private homes, said commission chairwoman Elizabeth Dubrulle.

Naser and his son, Robert D. Naser, argued that the home is in disrepair, inhabitable, and will cost too much to fix. Over the course of two previous meetings, the commission asked Naser to hire a building preservation specialist to evaluate the structure.

“It’s a tough issue. It’s one that happens in a lot of towns: preservation and condition, and pocket and finances,” said Stephen Bedard, of Bedard Preservation & Restoration in Gilmanton, who spoke to the commission.

Bedard told the commission that the house has problems including outdated wiring, shingles that contain asbestos, and an insufficient foundation, which is causing it to sink. Board members found his report similar to that of building inspector Marc Tessier, who found the house suffering with age but worth saving.

In an attempt to reduce the cost of repairing the home, commission members decided to allow Naser to knock down the buildings on the property that are not attached to the main house.

But Naser said estimates from contractors put the cost of fixing the home at $410,000. He said he could probably rent the home as is, but would not feel comfortable doing so.

“I have a moral obligation to people,” he said. “I’d be afraid, with the wiring, that it’d go on fire.”

Naser argued the home has no historic value. 

“I guess these people hate to see an old building go down. But there’s nothing there,” he said.

Bedard said the front of the home is architecturally unusual, but not unique or rare.

“I think you have to go by what [the commission] wants to do,” Bedard said. “Each town is different” in its standards for what makes a structure historic, he said.

Naser’s son said they were considering taking steps to appeal the decision. As for future renovation, the elder Naser said he is not legally obligated to fix the house.

“We’re not obligated to do anything. We could just let the house rot,” he said. “But we would like to work with the town.”

Dubrelle said the home was zoned as part of a historic district when Naser purchased it in 1988.

“We really tried to balance what the property owner wanted and what our responsibility was,” Dubrelle said.

Purchasing a home in a historic district comes with certain responsibilities, she said.

“By buying a home that’s in one of the historic zones, you commit yourself to maintaining it. And if you don’t want to, you shouldn’t buy a home in a historic district,” she said.


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