Planning board tours Marshall subdivision

By Mike Lange
Staff Writer

    DEXTER — The Dexter Planning Board and the town’s interim code enforcement officer did an on-site inspection of Gerald Marshall’s subdivision on Abbott Hill June 13, and members seemed to be impressed with the developer’s progress. “I think a lot of questions have been answered,” said Al Tempesta, who stepped down from the Planning Board last week to accept the CEO position.

    Marshall purchased the former Dexter school buildings and the 42-acre lot two years ago for $205,000, but has focused his efforts on converting five modular classrooms into efficiency apartment duplexes.

NE-Marshall-dc-PO-25Observer photo/Mike Lange

    DEXTER SUBDIVISION — Pictured are three of the five modular classrooms at Gerald Marshall’s Abbott Hill development that are being converted into apartment duplexes.

    “There’s a need for housing like this,” Marshall told the board. “These are ideal for two people on Social Security, but I’m not marketing it specifically for senior citizens.”
    While the interiors aren’t finished, Planning Board members went through several buildings and asked questions about energy efficiency, parking, accessibility and other details.
    Marshall said that the tenants will have a single rent payment “and that will include heat and electricity. That way, I don’t have to worry about someone having their power cut off.” Heat pumps like those used in motel units will be installed in the apartments with a propane backup, Marshall explained. “They are very energy-efficient. They provide heat in the winter and air conditioning in the summer,” he said.
    Once the apartments are finished, Marshall plans to put up a gazebo in one of the open spaces. “I’m not going to do a lot of (tree) cutting,” he said.
    Planning Board Member Susan Long said that she was pleased that Marshall “seems to be going the extra mile to make this work.”
    Marshall said that while he would like to see the buildings ready for occupancy by fall, he’s making no promises. “I’m doing this by the seat of my pants. You don’t know what’s going to happen down the road,” he said.
    The developer ran into problems earlier this spring when he learned that the town’s zoning laws allowed him to put electricity in the buildings, but not plumbing. So the town required him to provide the board with subdivision plans.
    According to the minutes of the May 24 Planning Board meeting, engineer Al Hodsdon told members that the subdivision was unique because not all the standards would apply. There is no setback requirement because Marshall owns the property and the units will be rentals. Also, the buildings were already on the lot and were just moved from one place to another on the same property.
    Hodsdon mailed out the engineering report earlier in the week, but Planning Board members and Marshall didn’t receive a copy until the night of the site review. So Chairman Sherman Leighton suggested that the board members take the report home and study it prior to the June 27 public hearing on the subdivision. A final decision is expected at that meeting, Leighton said.
    Marshall said that while he has been patient with the process getting his project off the ground, “These delays are very frustrating. But I understand where you’re coming from.”
    The June 27 meeting will be held at the council chambers starting at 7:30 p.m.

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