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Zoning Change Sought For Farmhouse Near Lebanon High School

  • Ann Therrien in her barn in Lebanon, N.H., on April 1, 2014. Therrien's property abuts the Hanover Street Elementary School and  High School. <br/>Valley News - Jennifer Hauck

    Ann Therrien in her barn in Lebanon, N.H., on April 1, 2014. Therrien's property abuts the Hanover Street Elementary School and High School.
    Valley News - Jennifer Hauck Purchase photo reprints »

  • Ann Therrien's home in Lebanon, N.H.,behind it the Hanover Street Elementary School and Lebanon High School.<br/>Valley News - Jennifer Hauck

    Ann Therrien's home in Lebanon, N.H.,behind it the Hanover Street Elementary School and Lebanon High School.
    Valley News - Jennifer Hauck Purchase photo reprints »

  • Ann Therrien in her barn in Lebanon, N.H., on April 1, 2014. Therrien's property abuts the Hanover Street Elementary School and  High School. <br/>Valley News - Jennifer Hauck
  • Ann Therrien's home in Lebanon, N.H.,behind it the Hanover Street Elementary School and Lebanon High School.<br/>Valley News - Jennifer Hauck

Lebanon — Six generations of the Hatch family have lived in the same farmhouse on Evans Drive since an ancestor purchased the property in the 1880s. But there isn’t likely to be a seventh.

Blame taxes and upkeep.

The five-bedroom house, the neighboring bungalow and the 1.8 acres on which they sit have been on the market for a couple of years, but so far there haven’t been any takers.

“It’s just not feasible to keep it,” said the property’s owner Ann Therrien, a retired Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center nurse who grew up in the farmhouse with her brothers, Bruce and Fredrick Hatch.

The decision to sell did not come easily, but Therrien has come to accept the reality because paying $13,000 in property taxes has become a burden, she said.

“I don’t want to go back to work.”

Her three daughters, who also grew up in the farmhouse, have chosen not to live there and though two adult grandchildren are staying there, she worries that the historic structure is falling into disrepair, she said.

“It’s so overwhelming; it’s gotta go,” she said as she walked through a carriage house and horse stalls attached to the main house. “Hopefully it will make somebody happy.”

Therrien initially approached the neighboring Hanover Street School and Lebanon High School, but said they were uninterested in the property, which is listed for $695,000.

Lebanon School District Business Administrator Jim Fenn did not return a phone call seeking comment.

To help improve prospects of a sale, Therrien has asked the city to rezone the property from residential-three to residential-office-one designation.

Under the expanded zoning use, a buyer could convert the Hatch home into an office.

This residence-only zoning restriction has put a damper on interest in purchasing the parcel, said Therrien’s real estate agent Jim Ward.

He said the house site is not desirable as a strictly residential property.

“Any interest has been from a redevelopment standpoint,” he said. “They don’t get very far in the process when they realize the zoning.”

Ward said there is a need for free-standing commercial buildings with easy access to I-89.

He pointed to the city’s future land use map as evidence that it plans to zone the area as mixed use in the future.

“It wouldn’t be prudent for the city or anybody to have it stay R-3,” he said.

The character of the area has changed significantly over the decades of the Hatch family’s ownership. Therrien remembers leading heifers across what is now Route 120 to a summer pasture on Labombard Road, where Therrien’s brother, Fredrick, later built his house. Much of the family’s farmland was taken through eminent domain to become Lebanon schools.

More change for the area appears to be in its future.

Lebanon’s Planning and Zoning Director Andrew Gast-Bray confirmed that the city plans to amend the zoning in the area of Therrien’s home, but he described the zoning process as “extremely cumbersome.”

He was sympathetic to Therrien’s impatience, but he said that several elements of the area’s future remain undefined, including parking, traffic, transportation patterns, school capacity, neighboring properties, and natural areas.

The historic Densmore brickyard, which is located across Hanover Street from the Hatch family home, is also on the market. The 130-acre site includes a 10-acre pond, trails, a half-mile of frontage on I-89 and historic brickyard kilns.

The unknowns have made the city “reluctant to make those final determinations,” said Gast-Bray.

Therrien’s other neighbors include parcels in both relevant zoning districts. A sizable wetland across Evans Drive, Comcast and an office building across Hanover Street are in a residential-office-one zone, while two brick residences formerly belonging to the Densmore family and the school property lie in a residential-three zone.

The City Council will weigh Therrien’s request at its meeting tonight.

At-large Councilor Steve Wood, At Large, described Therrien’s request as “big.”

Though he expressed no opposition to the house becoming offices, he also suggested a preference for the property being put to use for the school in some way.

“The school should be the driving force,” he said.

At large Councilor Erling Heistad also suggested that the property be utilized by the school, perhaps as a clubhouse or a space for environmental studies, given it’s proximity to a wetland.

“What basic need have we not addressed?” asked Heistad. “It would be a travesty to see that go into anything but supporting our kids.”

Should the council approve Therrien’s request tonight, it will be slated for review by the Conservation Commission and Planning Board in May, before coming back to the City Council for a public hearing in June.

Nora Doyle-Burr can be reached at ndoyleburr@vnews.com or 603-727-3213.