Wednesday, May 2, 2007

ZBA approves addition for YMCA

Union Leader Correspondent

GOFFSTOWN The town zoning board last night granted two variances necessary to the proposed expansion of the Goffstown branch of the Greater Manchester Family YMCA, disappointing several abutters who said the project would hurt their property value.

The YMCA is planning to add 4,122 square feet to the existing building, which is 62,000 square feet.  The building is in violation of the zoning ordinance, which does not allow non-residential and non-agricultural buildings in the area to exceed 5,000 square feet and also restricts buildings to 10 percent or less of their lots.

The addition, which would occur in tandem with major renovation of the interior, is necessary to meet the growing demands of the public according to Steve Keach, one of the engineers for the project.

The last construction project occurred in 1996.  Amendment to the zoning ordinance since then, Keach told the board, hampers plans for further expansion.  Had the board not approved the variances, Keach warned that the YMCA facility would have had to move to another location.

The justify the variance, the YMCA had to demonstrate that the project was in the public interest and would result in "substantial justice."  Keach said there was little doubt the YMCA met those criteria.

"Their mission is in the public interest,"Keach said after the vote was taken.  "If not for the public, there wouldn't be a YMCA."  Several abutters at the meeting disagreed.  John Burpee, a resident of the Medvil Cooperative who has criticized the project before the planning board, said it would impact abutters in his neighborhood who incur costs due to the runoff from the YMCA facility, which is on a hill.


The previous owner of the Medvil Cooperative, Burpee told the board, spent $100,000 trying to improve poor drainage in the area.  "There is no way you could come to the conclusion that it does not diminish the value of the surrounding properties," Burpee said.

Another abutter who does not live in the Medvil Cooperative said the addition would diminish his property value too because the YMCA plans to cut down several trees that are between it and his house.  "As it is now, it sits like a red elephant," he said.

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