SPOFFORD — Plans to demolish and subdivide the old Spofford Hall property are still pending following a public hearing before the Chesterfield Planning Board Monday evening.
Owner Nine A LLC has proposed tearing down the long-abandoned former substance-use rehabilitation center and turning the nearly 11-acre property into five parcels that would eventually be put up for sale to be developed as single-family homes.
Jim Phippard of Brickstone Land Use Consultants in Keene, a consultant for Nine A, said during Monday’s hearing that he had just recently reviewed the project’s drainage plan and had forwarded it to the planning board earlier that day. The board continued the matter until 7:30 p.m. April 6, to allow members time to review the new information, required for the project’s demolition permit to be considered complete.
The hearing was attended by about a dozen area residents.
Built in 1981, Spofford Hall was once an upscale treatment facility for those battling addiction. It has been vacant since 1992.
Phippard noted that years of neglect have left the building in dangerous condition, which requires remediation before it can be taken down.
“There is asbestos in the building and a bad mold problem,” Phippard said. “So there’s an expensive abatement program that goes through before the building can be demolished.”
The project would use the cluster-development planning model, whereby a certain amount of green space is required as part of the project’s approval — in this case, 36 acres on the other side of a planned private road serving the new lots.
The five parcels would be valuable lakefront real estate, with each expected to be assessed at around $300,000 or more, according to Phippard. The lots would range in size from 0.89 to 1.52 acres.
Phippard said this is the project’s third time going through the approval process after being forced to return to the drawing board to make changes. A version of the subdivision plan was first put forth in 2006, but the Chesterfield Zoning Board of Adjustment rejected it. However, the board signaled it would consider a revised proposal.
Nine A appealed that decision to the N.H. Supreme Court, which sided with the zoning board in 2008.
The current version of the plan was first pitched in 2013. However, due to a prohibition against cluster developments in the Spofford Lake zoning district, it required a variance from the zoning board to move forward. The board granted the variance in 2014.
The town’s board of selectmen appealed the decision, but Sullivan County Superior Court Judge Brian T. Tucker, who heard the case after a Cheshire County judge recused himself, upheld the variance in December 2018.
The property was previously owned by real estate developer and part-time Chesterfield resident John Chakalos, who was found slain on Dec. 21, 2013, in his home in Windsor, Conn. Chakalos Management LLC is listed as the principal and agent for Nine A LLC in the Connecticut Secretary of State’s business database.
Police named Chakalos’ grandson, Nathan Carman, a “person of interest” in his grandfather’s death, but Carman was never charged, and the case remains unsolved.
Nearly three years later, Carman found himself in the spotlight after he was discovered at sea in a lifeboat near Martha’s Vineyard. His mother, Linda Carman, Chakalos’ daughter, had joined her son on a fishing trip, but Carman said there had been a wreck, and his mother — who is presumed dead — was never found.
In December of that year, FBI agents searched the Spofford Hall property, though it’s unclear what they were looking for. A spokeswoman for the agency’s Boston field office would say only that the FBI’s Evidence Response Team was aiding a multi-agency investigation.
This article has been changed to correct an inaccurate description of the former rehabilitation center's amenities.