Women and children’s group home proposed at former Catholic retreat on Temple Road in New Ipswich


Monadnock Ledger-Transcript

Published: 05-10-2023 11:08 AM

A proposal for a group home to provide transitional housing for exploited women and pre-teen children on Temple Road in New Ipswich will be headed to public hearing in June.

During an application review last week, the New Ipswich Zoning Board reviewed plans submitted by William Van deWater to convert a former nun’s retreat on Temple Road into temporary housing for up to 12 women and their children.

The proposal outlined a group home where women could live for up to 24 months before moving to an independent living situation. The property once housed a retreat for Catholic nuns, and has a total of 17 bedrooms and eight bathrooms.

The board reviewed the application for completeness, and directed Van deWater to include a site plan that included plans for parking, water and sewer. The board then accepted the application for review in a unanimous vote.

The application is now set for its first public hearing, on Thursday, June 1, at 7:05 p.m., at the New Ipswich Town Offices.

In the same meeting, the board also reviewed an application for 151 Main St., a former residential assisted living facility. The applicants, Joseph Coffey and Patrick Houghton, are seeking a special exception to turn the building, which was most recently Friendship Manor, into a affordable rooming house.

However, during their review, Houghton and Coffey also said they were also considering turning the building into a sober-living facility. The property has a total of 21 bedrooms.

According to meeting minutes, Chair Walker Farrey said the board does not have a preference as to which way the applicants go, but that the application needs to state the specific use. Board member David Lage agreed, particularly as a rooming house and sober living facility would have different ordinance provisions they needed to abide by.

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The board also discussed the property generally with the applicants, noting that there have been historical issues with the building in relation to having sufficient parking, water and sewer design.

Coffey and Houghton agreed to speak with the town’s building inspector, and do further research into property records before returning with a specific usage proposal. The board did not vote to accept the application until a specific proposal is brought forth.

In another matter, the board concluded a public hearing for a proposal to install lights at the Memorial Park baseball field. The Mt. Monadnock Baseball Organization has proposed to install privately funded lighting at the park to extend the spring and fall baseball seasons. The plan called for four 50-foot wooden pols, with seven lights each.

According to minutes, the board expressed concerns about light trespass into homes along Temple Road. Lage suggested that the poles would be a “sore thumb” compared to the netting poles, which are half that height.

Farrey suggested a compromise, limiting the poles to 40 feet. Stephen Falter, representing Mt. Monadnock Baseball, said the organization preferred the 50-foot configuration, but would accept whatever height the board was willing to approve.

The board approved the installation of the lighting, on conditions that they be 40 feet, and lighting must be shut off by 9:30 p.m., among other conditions.

Ashley Saari can be reached at 603-924-7172 ext. 244 or a saari@ledgertranscript.com. She’s on Twitter @AshleySaariML T.