By STEPHEN BEALE
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
"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.