ZBA says 'No' to
By JILLIAN JORGENSEN
- A local man who wants to demolish a house he owns within the town's historic district was denied the right to do so again last week, this time by the Zoning Board of Adjustment.
Robert E. Naser said he plans to appeal the board's unanimous decision.
"I understand those things. I understand how people are; they see it one way and that's the way. So, we'll just press on," he said.
The Historic District Commission first denied his request to tear down the home in June, but allowed him to demolish a garage and barn.
The Mast Road home has been vacant for four years, Naser said.
At previous hearings it was said the home was built around 1850s, but in an interview last week Naser said other experts had told him it may have been built in the 1900s. It is in one of Goffstown's three historic districts, which include 10 private homes.
"The house itself has no history to it," Naser said. He also owns a large piece of property surrounding it that is part of the district.
"They've got the whole 90 acres in the historical part," he said. "Was there a battle fought on that property?" Naser said he received two appraisals for fixing the home, one at $482,000 and another at $481,000, not including "anything on the outside," or the septic system.
"You're looking at half a million dollars and I don't feel that the house is worth it," said Naser, who works in real estate development. "At some point I think there will be some common sense." But the board said the home was in the district when Naser bought it in the 1980s.
"When he purchased the property it had already been in the historic district for two years at that time, and (the board) felt that he should have been aware of that and then the responsibility that came with it," said Derek Horne, the town's zoning code enforcement official, who is not a member of the Zoning Board of Adjustment.
Horne said the board also felt that Naser had not demonstrated that he had made attempts to substantially improve the home.
Elizabeth Dubrulle, chairman of the Historic District Commission, said Naser had never filed for any building permits or certificates of appropriateness, which are needed to do substantial work on the house.
"The rules were in place when he bought it, and yet he still thinks he should get the exception," she said.
There has also been speculation that tearing down the home could be the first step to develop the large property, Dubrulle said.
Naser plans to appeal again. Horne said he has to ask the Zoning Board of Adjustment for a rehearing within 30 days. If the ZBA denies the rehearing, the next step is an appeal to Superior Court.
Dubrulle said she is sorry the home has been a hardship on Naser, but said nobody is forcing him to make repairs.
"Nobody is forcing him to fix it up right now," she said. "If he wants to rent it tomorrow, he could, there's nothing stopping it." But Naser said he believes the house is uninhabitable and he is not comfortable renting it.
"There are problems there that could possibly hurt people, and that's my concern," he said.
Horne said it is ultimately a matter of balance: while some experts speaking on behalf of Naser to the Historic District Commission had said the house was not that important architecturally, people in the neighborhood and the district had argued it was important to the town's history.
"Saving that and maintaining that is important, but you also have to balance that against the property owner's right to do what he wants with his property," Horne said. "That's what the zoning board is trying to do."
a million bucks to finish this house?
As an out of work carpenter. Im pretty sure I
could do it on a budget of 250k.And still make a
substantial paycheck at the end.
Sounds like those estimates were beefed up a
- Charlie, Litchfield
not read the Goffstown historic district
ordinance. Have any of you prior posters done so?
Many of you seem to assume that the ordinance
clearly forbids demolition of the house, and/or
that the historic district commission has
correctly interpreted the ordinance in this case.
Local boards often interpret ordinances as they
would like them to be written, not as they
actually are written.
And even if the historic district ordinance was
correctly interpreted, justice might dictate that
there are special circumstances that should allow
demolition of the structure. The job of the ZBA is
to render a quasi-judicial verdict based on
statutes and case law, balancing the particular
facts of the situation against the spirit of the
It's just not black and white.
- Curt Springer, Danville
some point I think there will be some common
umm. I wouldn't hold your breath on that one.
- Justin, Manch
line!!!!!... this individual has a property in a
recognized historic district, didn't maintain it,
and now wants to develop it...The community
granted him his wish to demolish some of the
outbuildings...They, not him, have already
There comes a time when one must respect the
rights of the community...The rights of nearby
property owners whose property values are effected
by his indifference...He was a poor steward and
now, like those who owned high gas consumption
cars now benefitting from the "Clunkers"
car bill, expects to be rewarded... I say no!
Rep. Steven Lindsey
- TaxiManSteve, Keene
is sad that people don't seem to understand
"Historic Districts" I live in this
district, I voted for this district, my house
value is only in it's "Antiquity", the
district has helped keep the "status
quo". I would like to add that the house that
Mr Nasser wants to down is not fit to be inhabited
and really has been in a long time. I have been in
the house many times, it is not liviable by
anyones standards. The only wiring is "Knob
and tubing" every bit of it. It is a problem,
but don't knock "Historic Districs".
- Carroll Berg, Goffstown NH
of all, Mr. Naser should be ashamed that he let
the property fall into such a state of disrepair.
If he has owned it since the 1980's then he has
plenty of time to perform the neccessary repairs.
I think Mr. Naser's main concern is he wants to
develope the land and I think that the people and
town officials in Goffstown should satand up to
him and say No way. It was a historic district
when he bought the land and he knew it and he knew
what the rules were then. I Rhode Island there are
very strict guidelines for the buyer of a home in
a historic district, especially if the house some
historic significance. Why doesn't Mr. Naser apply
for funding from the National HIstorical Sociaety
to help with the cost of renovations?
- Steve Micke, Freedom
meant to write "no impact fees being assessed
on developers" not "by". Oops.
- Texter, Newfields
town politics at it's finest! Perhaps he should
have bought in Kingston, where the historic
committee has no regard for the "rules"
when the exception benefits committee members.
- MS, Kingston
Ahem, my parents were living in Exeter when I was
born, and moved to another town in NH thereafter.
I am a NH native.
I wonder if the issue of having problems paying
taxes is due to high taxes caused by people moving
into your town as a result of lax zoning that
allowed willy-nilly building and no impact fees
being assessed by developers? Could you put 10 of
the 12 acres into current use and get a reduction
in taxes? Or, sell a conservation easement to the
town or state?
I find it interesting that many who espouse
property rights on the one hand complain when
someone exercises those rights, sells the land in
the smallest possible parcels to maximize their
profit with the result being people from somewhere
else coming in and wanting more. Actually, I find
it funny to see them hoist on their own petard.
Can't have your cake and eat it, too.
- Texter, Newfields
this why you should NEVER allow any Hysterical
District to be set in any town or city.
Unless THEY have the money to fix it, they
shouldn't be telling anyone what to do with their
I would never let a bunch of snooty history buffs
tell me that I have to spend more than what the
property is worth to fix it up.
He bought the house in the 80's and it has been
vacant for 4 years. If the HDC was so worried
about the property, they should have stepped in
years ago before the property got so bad.
I love how these blowhards think they can tell
everyone what to do.
Here's an option, find a family that totally
doesn't fit in with the town (I think you know
what I mean) and let them live there for free. It
won't be long before you get a permit to demolish.
Works every time!
- Pauline, Franklin
"history" of this house is debatable. In
California, "Architectural Review
Boards" decide whether you have rights to
your home and land. Their motto: We don't need no
stinkin' history. Fellow New Hampshirites, be very
afraid when you hear politicians and bureaucrats
gush about "cultural heritage"--that
could be ANYTHING.
- Spike, Brentwood NH
"It has kept the quaint town that we moved to
back then quaint today."
Yep, shut the door after YOU move in.
Typical non-native NH resident.
I was born in NH, and after my parents recently
passed they left us with 12 acres of land in
The land heas been in my family for nearly 60
years, and we can't afford the taxes.
I can't wait for all of those people 'who moved to
NH for the quiet life' to speak up to prevent any
I've seen this house in Goffstown, it's a
dilapidated piece of crap, an eyesore, and a home
for lots of stray cats, etc.
- BH, Goffstown
was aware of the rules and regs when he bought the
- Sam, Goffstown
solution to this nonsense is a match.
- Mike, Bedford
sound like the zoning board or the 'historic'
commission has any intention of changing their
mind. If the house is simply old, who cares. Did
Lincoln sleep there? Did George Washington sleep
Who in there right mind would spend a half a
million to 'fix' a 'home'.
If something is termed 'historic', doesn't it have
to have some connection to an actual person of
note or event of the era?
If old is all you need, then I got a pair of jeans
that should be on the historic register.
- john, goffstown
can't take it down, he should research the most
obnoxious, yet historically accurate, color he can
find and paint the whole house so everyone can
- MS, Litchfield
surprises you why? This is just another example of
Goffstown politics. Not one of them knows what
they are doing, and believe me, not one of them
cares about a single resident. If it was one of
them that wanted to do this, it wouldn't have been
- Dawn, Goffstown, NH
bought the property it came with certain
restrictions. If he failed to find out the extent
of those restrictions that is his fault. Why is it
that some people feel that they should be above
- Jeff, Manchester
you are ever thinking of buying a house in any
"hysterical" district, DON"T. You
will be under the thumb of the local government
forever, needing to get variances to paint, plant
trees, put up a fence, etc. I would rather bang my
head repeatedly into a wall than deal with these
- Wayne S, Manchester
didn't want the restictions, he shouldn't have
bought in that area. You know what your getting
yourself into when you purchase an old home,
repairs. To all those that are up in arms over
this, no one forced him to purchase the property,
he knew the the rules and regulations at the time
- SAM, KINGSTON
will they do when time and the elements bring this
property to the ground, sue God?
- Craig D, Manchester
the law when he bought the property.
- Sam, Goffstown
Nasser ought to take the position that the
Commission and therefore the Town, since it will
not let him do what he wishes with his property,
has just "taken" his property and
therefore they should be forced to compensate him
That ought to really please the taxpayers in this
- Bill, Bedford NH
debate is solely reliant on the contract the owner
signed or didnít sign. Letís see the
paperwork. If he signed it and it says that the
house cannot be demolished, then tough luck. If it
doesnít say anything about demolishing it or he
didnít sign it, than let him destroy it, and let
it be a lesson on contractual agreements for
I think if these boards exist to keep the
integrity of the town, the people that buy
historic homes should get tax break. They are
entering a partnership with the town and neither
party owns the entire rights to the property. A
tax break would be an incentive for the buyer.
- Ben N, Manchester
is just a not-so-subtle reminder that no one
really owns property as long as the government can
take it, tax it, or tell you what to do with it.
- Tim, Candia
state laws allowing historic districts to be
locally regulated completely conform to the NE
idea of local control. This isn't the federal
government or the state telling a property owner
what to do -- this is your town, your neighbors,
deciding what to do.
If you don't like the regulations and oversight,
don't buy a property in an historic district.
- YM, concord
all nice to think about our property rights, but
there are always compromises, aren't there? How
about setback laws? Every town has them. Are they
infringing on individual rights? How about height
restrictions, business zones, etc.? Do they
infringe on what you can do? How would you feel if
someone decides to put up an incinerator 15 feet
from your house? You wouldn't want to infringe on
that, would you? It's that company's right to do
whatever that want with their property, isn't it?
Of course it isn't. You can bet the property
rights people would be yelling a different protest
to every town board and commission if someone
wanted to do that right next door to *their*
It's the same with this historic district. The
town wants to keep an area looking like a small
New England town. Maybe they should work with this
guy to make sure he replaces his house with
something that fits in, and not some condo
complex. But it's not something they just drew up
If you want property rights, you have the right to
buy somewhere else. But wherever you go, don't
whine about the rules to fit your idea of what's
right and what's not.
- Marc, Derry
that knows Bob knows he respects historic value
but the home in question is beyond repair and
holds no historic value! He is a reasonable man
and I believe they should allow him to make his
own decision about his own property, as a resident
of goffstown I think it is absolutely ridiculous
what their asking of him, yet they dont ask of
other in the quote "historic community"
whos houses are in shambles and are in the center
- Corrine, Goffstown, NH
could always just do it anyways and then just pay
a fine...what are they going to do make him
Or there could always be a "construction
- jenny, manchester
just another example of government getting in your
face and telling you what to do. When will the
- Bill, Tuftonboro
people people....please we all know it is better
to drive down the main street in town and see a
building/house that is trashed and in ruin then to
see a building/house that has been fixed up and
looks good...oh and Texter enjoy your quaint
little town where it is just the locals and
"outsiders" are not made to feel
welcome...so 1900's of you...
- DJ, Goffstown
classic example of we your government appointed
officials know what is best. After all Mr. Naser
only bought and pays the taxes on this house. Why
that would give him some kind of right to do with
it as he wants is just silly in the eyes of those
who know better. But keep paying the taxes or we
may take it from you and send you prison with Mr.
Can we all go to the houses of the Historic
Commission and tell them what to do with their
- Deb, Derry
so much for freedom. I guess after all we are all
controled by our oficials one way or another so we
are not free as we think.
If its my property I should do what I please with
it but since they won't make any money with it
demolish then the answer is NO figures.
- Dan, Manchester
not a flagrant violation of private property
rights, it's allowed by law. Back in the 60's, my
parents and a few others in the town we lived in
set up historic districts and introduced zoning
laws. It has kept the quaint town that we moved to
back then quaint today.
I'll bet that some of you complainers will put on
your "Go back to Massachusetts" hat when
this guy cuts his land up, sells it to whomever
wants to buy it, and they then want more services
to be provided by the town and state. You'll be
really happy then, won't you, as long as you have
something to complain about and nothing positive
- Texter, Newfields
real bottom line is that these historic districts,
and the rules, are well known when buying, and
they're the law. People should know what they're
buying into. Or perhaps he did know and took
advantage of a lower price due to the fact it was
in a historic district.
I don't agree with those laws, as they should be
more flexible to allow for individual assessments.
So change the law and work with that. Buying into
a known environment and planning to fight it later
is kind of like buying near an airport and
expecting them to add soundproofing. Do your
- Marc, Derry
Hampshire's laws that enable local communities to
establish historic districts, were probably
originally well intentioned, but have little
consideration for individual rights. Private
property is private property, is private property.
If these commissions want to control historic
properties, then, these communities should wave
the property tax bills. That would probably cure
- Ted Ryll, Winchester
a flagrant violation of private property rights.
The people of Goffstown should repeal this stupid
Historic law immediately.
- mike, cornish
government control of your private property by
allowing the formation of Historic commisions was
the mistake made years ago. Think long and hard
folks before giving "boards" who
"know" better than you any control over
your personal property. They don't call then
Histerical commisions for nothing.
- mark, derry nh
disagree with the power these historic district
commissions have. Homeowners and business owners
in these districts often have severe restrictions
placed on their properties ranging from the color
you must paint a building to the use you can make
of the property. However, they're is no relief
given through a reduction in the real estate taxes
- Brian, Farmington
same old thing, Let the town buy it if they are so
concerned of its historical value And we all have
a right to do what we want with our homes that we
pay taxes on,right the same old bull.Taxation with
out representation. And this is America a free
- rb, rochester
easier to ask for forgiveness than ask for
Too late for that
- Chip, Wilton
Historic District Commission refuses to let the
home owner demolish his substandard house, perhaps
the Historic District Commission should pay to
rehabilitate the house?
- Gus, Manchester
line --- He owns It -- its future should be HIS
- tomgnh, manchester