Work-force housing decision upheld

NASHUA – The city zoning board has unanimously denied a request to reconsider its decision to deny developer John Picard six permits he needed to build a so-called work-force housing complex at 502 W. Hollis St., the former home of WSMN radio.

In rejecting the request, the board said Tuesday that it had not denied Picard a reasonable use of the land last month because he could still build a 40-unit cluster condominium project approved for the 12.5-acre site by the city four years ago.

Picard and his lawyer, John Edwards, said the developer could not finish that project because of vast amounts of ledge on the property.

In his rehearing request, Edwards reiterated his contention that the amount of ledge on the site constituted an economic hardship that justified the granting of permits to build the work-force housing.

Picard said he had spent $1.5 million to trying to rectify the ledge problem, but the board said he had presented no proof of having spent any money, except $10,000 he paid to have some boundaries marked with stakes.

“Nothing was presented to show us these expenses had been incurred,” member Gerry Reppucci said.

Edwards also maintained that the site’s R-9 zoning unfairly restricts the use of the land. The R-9 designation means only single-family homes can built on the site on lots measuring at least 9,000 square feet.

The board spent more than an hour scrutinizing Edwards’ seven-page request for reconsideration and found he offered no credible evidence that the denial of the permits was unjust.

“We went out of our way to make sure we listened to all testimony” member Kathy Vitale said.

“I think we very thoroughly addressed all the relevant points of law,” Chairman Jack Currier added.

Edwards has said that if the board denied his request for a rehearing, his client would appeal the case to Hillsborough County Superior Court.

Meanwhile, the Picard property is scheduled to the sold at a foreclosure auction scheduled for April 1.

Picard’s company is under bankruptcy protection, and a federal bankruptcy court has released the West Hollis Street property for sale, according to Bob Parodi, a lawyer for Picard creditors Blackfoot Capital and Thomas Maddox.

The foreclosure has been rescheduled before, presumably to give Picard time to try to get the zoning board to change its mind on the work-force housing.

If the case is appealed to superior court, the foreclosure sale could be delayed again.