Dartmouth Downsizes Proposal

Residents Want Facility to Be Moved

Valley News Staff Writer
Friday, May 27, 2016

Hanover — Concerned neighbors have persuaded Dartmouth College to scale down its proposal for an athletic facility east of campus, but say they still want the building moved elsewhere.

Dartmouth is seeking Planning Board approval of a 70,000-square-foot indoor practice facility next to the Alexis Boss Tennis Center, off South Park Street. Nearby residents have organized in opposition to the nearly $17 million construction project, saying its size and appearance run contrary to the character of the neighborhood.

Earlier this month, Planning Board member Kelly Dent, one of the closest abutters, appealed a decision from the town zoning administrator that the project would meet existing regulations.

Dent and her neighbors argued that Dartmouth and town officials had incorrectly measured the height of the building, which would stand on sloping land.

College administrators recently agreed to revise their plans, leading Dent to withdraw her appeal.

“We agreed to modify the height of the building so that it is consistent with the neighbors’ interpretation of the height, as measured under the ordinance, on all building faces,” Dartmouth spokesman Justin Anderson said in an email.

The building now would rise to 60 feet as measured from the facade facing Tyler Road, where the neighbors live, rather than about 70 feet.

But Dent said in a phone interview on Wednesday she still wanted the building moved, and added that she “kind of regretted” abandoning her zoning challenge.

“Now I’m kind of wondering if I should have dropped it,” she said.

The advantage for Dartmouth to the site near Tyler Road, Dent said, was that the incline of the land would have allowed construction of a taller building, and she said her action was meant to “make it less appealing of a site.”

Neighbors have suggested the facility be built on the nearby Blackman athletic fields, and college officials appear to be weighing the idea.

“We are actively engaged in discussions with representatives of the neighborhood and are considering a number of options,” Anderson said, asked whether Dartmouth would consider the Blackman fields.

In exchange for the move, Dent said, the neighborhood is willing to agree to Dartmouth’s siting a practice field on the “sunken garden” site, as planners are calling the field near Tyler Road.

“If you give us more of a buffer,” Dent said, “then we’d maybe be open to having a practice field in front of us.”

Although Dent has recused herself as a Planning Board member, she said she had been canvassing neighbors in advance of the board’s June 7 meeting, when it is expected to address the project’s site plan review.

That gathering is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. on June 7 at the Hanover Town Hall.

Rob Wolfe can be reached at rwolfe@vnews.com or at 603-727-3242.