Zoning Board OKs High Street Two-Family

A local developer will be allowed to turn a single-family dwelling back to a two-family home.
Keith Flenniken, a Windham developer, appeared before the Zoning Board of Adjustment (ZBA) at its Aug. 15 meeting to ask for a variance to the Derry Zoning Ordinance to allow the conversion of 29 High St. to a two-family home with less than the required lot space. The property is IF 29111 and is zoned MHDR (Medium High Density Residential).

Flenniken explained to the board that his business is buying “distressed property” and turning it around. He said the building, currently owned by the Federal National Mortgage Association, had been converted into two units, with a single room connecting them, by the former owner, but was still considered a single-family home.

Code Enforcement Officer Bob Mackey said the former owner applied for a permit in 2003 to install a second kitchen, but when told it would make the property considered a two-family, he eliminated the kitchen and created a larger master bedroom and family room instead. He later installed the kitchen, Mackey said.
The building is awkwardly designed for a single-family home, with the bedrooms at opposite ends, Flenniken said.

The conversion would not be contrary to the public interest, Flenniken said, because the area has several multi-family homes. Of seven abutters, only two are single-family, Flenniken said.
The value of the surrounding properties would not be diminished, Flenniken said, because the building is worth more as a two-family.

Flenniken said he planned to renovate both units, with new kitchens, new flooring and repairs to holes in the walls. Member Teresa Hampton asked about underground storage tanks, noting that many older homes had them. Flenniken said he did not know if this home had them. It had a lead paint violation in 1992 that has since been cleared up, he said.

Councilor Al Dimmock, who resides in the neighborhood, said the house had suffered from neglect. “By allowing this man to do the job he’s asked to do, it will benefit the neighborhood,” Dimmock said. “As long as it sits here like this, you’ll have damage to the property.”
Chairman Allan Virr observed, “It was accepted as a two-family home even though it was not legal. This man wants to rehab it and make it legal.”
The board approved the variance 5-0.