By MICHAEL KITCH, LACONIA DAILY SUN
LACONIA — Plans for redeveloping the lot at The Weirs where St. Helena's Mission Church once stood will likely change following the refusal of the Planning Board this week to grant the developer a waiver from the requirement to construct sidewalk along one side of the property.
Peter Morrissette, the principal of PEM Real Estate LLC, acquired the property on Endicott Street East in 2014 and, in partnership with his brother Kevin proposed to divide the 2.9-acre parcel into seven house lots ranging in size from 14,536 square feet to 22,416 square feet, all served by municipal utilities. He anticipated that the single-family homes would be priced around $250,000.
When Kevin Morrissette presented the project to the Planning Board, he readily agreed to construct 450 linear feet of sidewalk along Pendleton Road, which borders the lot to the west. However, he asked to the board to waive the requirement to build 300 linear feet of sidewalk along the frontage on Endicott Street East (NH Route 11B), where he said the cost would be excessive because of the terrain and topography and the need for a sidewalk is not pressing.
Luke Powell, assistant director of Public Works, said cost of constructing sidewalks varies, depending on the conditions of particular sites as well as the need for curbing and drainage. He said the cost has ranged from as little as $30 per linear foot to as much as $78 per linear foot.
After the board denied the waiver, Morrissette said that instead of building seven single-family homes he would propose constructing 17 apartments, the maximum number of dwelling units permitted by the zoning ordinance, divided among several buildings. The greater density would enable the cost of installing the sidewalk to be spread over more units.
The property is surrounded by a 30-acre tract where the Planning Board has approved a cluster subdivision, which includes four waterfront lots.
Peter Morrissette purchased the property from the Roman Catholic Diocese of Manchester for $185,000, well below the asking price of $349,000, after the property had been listed for about a year. The Roman Catholic Bishop of Manchester, the prior owner of the property, limited its future use by placing permanent restrictions on the deed that run with the land. Without the authorization of the Roman Catholic Bishop of Manchester, the property cannot be used as a place of worship or for any purpose "inconsistent with the faith and morals of the Roman Catholic Church."
Originally Morrissette proposed using the church as a storage facility and applied to the Zoning Board of Adjustment for the necessary variance. However, he withdrew his request in the face of bitter opposition from residents of Pendleton Beach Road and Boathouse Road.
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