August 21, 2009
ZBA decision to be appealed


GOFFSTOWN - Recently the Goffstown Zoning Board of Adjustment denied a man’s appeal to tear down a home he owns within one of the town’s historic districts.

The owner, Robert E. Naser, plans to appeal the board’s unanimous decision. He said he has had an expert visit the home and was told it did not have historic value.

“According to him, there’s nothing historical about the house. Nothing,” Naser said.

But the Historic District Commission disagreed, and the Zoning Board of Adjustment sided with their June decision that said he could not tear down the home. Naser said he understands the com4Wearemission’s point of view, and has fixed up many other historic properties, but he plans to appeal, possibly all the way to Superior Court.

“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.

At previous hearings it was said the home, which has been vacant for four years, was built around 1850, but in a previous interview, 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.

Naser 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 appraisals for fixing the home put the cost at about $482,000 and do not include “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.”

Elizabeth Dubrulle, chairman of the Historic District Commission, said he does not have to immediately spend the money. “Nobody is forcing him to fix it up right now,” she said, adding that he could rent it, a sentiment also expressed by the Zoning Board of Ajustment.

But Naser said the house had been declared uninhabitable by experts he hired to look at it.

“They say, ‘Well you can rent it,’” he said. “Well, how can you rent it if it’s not habitable? … There are problems there that could possibly hurt people, and that’s my concern,” he said.

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.

Dubrulle said Naser had commissioned multiple inspections of the house, but that its condition was not the point.

“You could fix this, and you’ve had 20 years to do it, and you haven’t done it,” she said.

Dubrulle 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 places 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.

Horne said that it was 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 owners right to do what he wants with his property,” Horne said. “That’s what the zoning board is trying to do.”

To appeal the decision, Naser can approach the Zoning Board of Adjustment for a rehearing within 30 days. If the Zoning Board of Adjustment denies the rehearing, the next step is an appeal to Superior Court.



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