Major subdivision in historic area OK’d

  • A view of the field at the corner of Gilmore Pond and Mountain roads shows one of the five subdivided lots that were approved for the Fredrick W. Greene Estate by Jaffrey Planning Board on Tuesday night.
  • An open field at the intersection of Gilmore Pond and Mountain roads in Jaffrey
  • An open field at the intersection of Gilmore Pond and Mountain roads in Jaffrey

Some residents are concerned about the future of the town’s historic Jaffrey Center, following the approval of a five-lot subdivision on Mountain and Gilmore Pond roads Tuesday night.

Following a public hearing Tuesday, the Planning Board unanimously approved a major subdivision applied for by Fredrick W. Greene Estate. The approximately 167-acre lot is to be divided into five parcels of approximately 1, 1.6, 3.2, 7, and 154 acres, according to the subdivision application on file at the Planning Board office. The largest, 154-acre parcel of land consisting mostly of wetlands, will remain under conservation easement. Two of the other lots will have frontage on Gilmore Pond Road, and two will be on Mountain Road, or Route 124.

Erlene Lemire, Planning Board clerk, said by phone Wednesday that the surveyor for the project, Eric C. Mitchell of Eric C. Mitchell and Associates, Inc. in Bedford, indicated that the overall development for these lots would be limited. “What [the] surveyor is portraying is probably 10 percent or less of the land,” Lemire said.

One lot, which falls on the corner of the two roads, raised some concern for local residents at the Tuesday meeting. Lemire said that more than one person was opposed to the lot being open for development. “I think they felt it might be an issue with the view,” she said, of the wide open space the lot currently consists of and Gap Mountain that can be seen in the distance.

Nancy Lloyd, who has run the Currier’s House Bed and Breakfast on Harkness Road along Route 124 for the last 15 years, said by phone Wednesday that the view the open lot currently allows for is one area residents are fond of.

“That’s what we all drive by — this beautiful vista into wide open land,” Lloyd said.

Sid Bixler — who has spent summers at his residence on Gilmore Pond Road for the last 74 years and who has lived there year-round for the last two — said in a phone interview Wednesday that he disagreed with approving the lot because of what it could mean for Jaffrey Center.

“The beauty of Jaffrey Center is the stark simplicity of it, and putting another building in there ruins that,” he said.

Barbara Danser, who has lived in Jaffrey for 12 years, voiced similar sentiments by phone Wednesday. “There are buildings there that go back very, very early in our history,” she said. Danser added that she was concerned about putting structures in the historic town center that don’t fit in with the architectural character of the area .

Lloyd echoed Danser’s comments. “What’s more concerning is that corner is part of the essence of the meeting area,” Lloyd said, referring to Jaffrey Center, which includes the 18th-century Meetinghouse off Mountain Road.

Despite issues with the corner lot, residents don’t seem to feel that the subdivision is bad in general. “I don’t think it will have that big of an impact on the area,” Danser said.

Lloyd said she felt fine about the rest of the subdivision. “I think I would agree with the general consensus that three out of the four lots seemed reasonable.”

Lemire said Wednesday that the Greene Estate members were sensitive to the issue with developing on the corner lot, and were not in a rush to build anything. “It’s not their intention to immediately do anything with these lots,” Lemire said. “[The corner lot] would most likely be the last one to sell.”

Lloyd said Samuel Greene, the member of the Greene Estate who attended Tuesday’s meeting and the owner of property abutting the Gilmore Pond and Mountain Roads corner lot, may want to buy the lot himself.

Greene could not be reached for comment by press time Wednesday.

The zoning for all the lots — even those in the mountain zone protection area for Mount Monadnock — is residential, according to Lemire.

The subdivision was approved with some conditions, including keeping any designs, layouts and structures of the lots compatible with the character of the neighborhood and making sure that no development affects the natural, cultural, historical and scenic value of the area.

Though people like Bixler and Lloyd did not agree with the corner lot at the intersection of Gilmore Pond and Mountain roads, they both said they were grateful for everything the Greene family has done up to this point. “I think everyone owes a debt of gratitude to the Greene family for not developing,” Bixler said.

Lloyd said she is thankful for all the work the family did to put the land in conservation: “I was impressed by the amount of money and concern and complications that the family has had to deal with,” she said.

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