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Peterborough rehab discussion to be continued Monday

  • Peterborough Zoning Board Vice-Chair Seth Chatfield discusses an appeal of an administrative decision that found a substance abuse rehabilitation center was not an allowed use in the village commercial zone. Staff photo by Ashley Saari—Monadnock Ledger-Transcript

  • Attorney Jim Callahan addresses the Peterborough Zoning Board of Adjustment during an appeal of an administrative decision that found a substance abuse rehabilitation center was not an allowed use in the village commercial zone. Staff photo by Ashley Saari—Monadnock Ledger-Transcript

  • Peterborough Zoning Board Vice Chair Seth Chatfield and Chair Loretta Laurenitis discuss an appeal of an administrative decision that found a substance abuse rehabilitation center was not an allowed use in the village commercial zone. Staff photo by Ashley Saari—Monadnock Ledger-Transcript

  • Peterborough Zoning Board Chair Loretta Laurenitis reviews an appeal of an administrative decision that found a substance abuse rehabilitation center was not an allowed use in the village commercial zone. Staff photo by Ashley Saari—Monadnock Ledger-Transcript



Monadnock Ledger-Transcript
Thursday, June 07, 2018

The Peterborough Zoning Board of Adjustment said Monday that it wants to hear from the town fire and police chief  before deciding on a variance application that would allow for a substance abuse treatment center in town.

At the beginning of Monday night’s hearing, the zoning board first ruled the proposed substance abuse treatment facility would be a healthcare use not a commercial use, overturning a May 10 administrative ruling from Code Enforcement Officer Tim Herlihy.

However, board members upheld Herlihy’s ruling that a healthcare facility is not allowed by right in the Village Commercial District, where the treatment center is proposed.

The 1810 Realty Group Inc., a company based out of Dorchester Center, Mass., has proposed a 64-bed detox and step-down treatment facility on Bridge Street properties, which are located behind the Peterborough Shopping Plaza on Route 101.

Monday night the zoning board addressed an appeal by 1810 Realty Group of Herlihy’s May 10 administrative decision that ruled the proposed treatment facility is not an allowed commercial use in the Village Commercial District.

Jim Callahan, the attorney representing the developer of the facility, came before the board and argued that the use is a commercial, and therefore allowed in the district. 

The Village Commercial District allows residential uses and commercial uses, which the ordinance lists as including – but not limited to – retail, grocery, vehicle sales and service, personal service and professional offices. 

“It’s not an exhaustive list, and it’s meant to infer what suitable uses are,” Callahan said. 

Callahan said, there are uses operating in the zone currently that are not on the list, including banks, nail salons, a liquor store, drug store, dog grooming and kennel services.  

Callahan argued that because medical services were “ancillary and incidental” to stabilize crisis patients, and the majority of the services offered by the center would be therapies, that the facility should not fall under the heading of healthcare. The majority of the board disagreed.

“You used the words ‘acute treatment facility,’” said Zoning Board Vice Chairman Seth Chatfield. “I’ve never in my life heard something called ‘acute treatment’ and not be a medical treatment.”

“Detox does seem more medical,” agreed Zoning Board Chairwoman Loretta Laurenitis.

Zoning members Peter LaRoche and Peggy Leedberg, however, disagreed, saying the use was mainly a commercial one and should be allowed in the district.

“The village commercial district was meant to be very broad, to be flexible, to allow high-density use,” said LaRoche.

The board ultimately found in a 3-2 decision that the facility would be a healthcare facility. 

The zoning board then heard an application for a variance to town zoning regulations that would grant the healthcare use in the Village Commercial District use to 1810 Realty Group for the proposed detox center. 

Callahan argued there is a need for treatment beds in the state and region. He also said the property is a long narrow piece of land that has been on and off the market for 20 years without interest from either residential or commercial development. 

Peterborough resident Jo Ellen D'Ambrosio said she likes the idea of a treatment center in Peterborough, but said the center of town is not the right spot.

“I think it’s wonderful they’re trying to help addicted people, but I think the placement is just wrong,” she said, adding that she is concerned about people signing themselves out of the facility and then staying in town. “I wish this facility were somewhere safer.”

Sharon Monahan, a member of the zoning board who recused herself from the variance consideration, said she agrees the property is not desirable for business, residential or light industry. 

Chatfield questioned whether property values would be affected by the facility. Heather Peterson, of Peterson Realty in Peterborough, said that the area has had multiple treatment facilities in the past, which have not impacted property values.

Zoning board members said they want to hear what Police Chief Scott Guinard and Fire Chief Ed Walker have to say on the matter before making a decision.

The board agreed to continue the hearing until Monday at 5:30 p.m., in the Town House.

 

Ashley Saari can be reached at 924-7172 ext. 244 or asaari@ledgertranscript.com. She’s on Twitter @AshleySaariMLT.