EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

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New Hampshire

November 12, 2012

Sober house may be eyeing college campus

Residents raise concerns

CHESTER — Eric Spofford, owner of a sober house in downtown Derry, has been here before.

When he proposed Granite House, a 30-bed facility on West Broadway, at least two neighbors were outspoken in their opposition.

Now, it’s happening again in Chester.

A representative of Spofford’s Granite House was scheduled to go before the Planning Board last week to speak informally about the former Chester College campus. But residents caught wind of the potential plan and raised concerns. The representative backed out of the meeting, according to a town official.

That happened after opposition surfaced to the potential development of a sober house.

An email circulating in town warned residents “100 inmates” could occupy the sober house.

“If you are concerned with the impact this could make on our town, please attend (the Planning Board) meeting,” the email said.

Town planning coordinator Cynthia Robinson said a Granite House representative had contacted the board to cancel the meeting, citing a conflict, but did not reschedule.

“They canceled it,” Robinson said.

Spofford didn’t want to say much about it.

“There is nothing happening yet,” he said last week.

Spofford attributed the meeting cancellation to a miscommunication with a contractor and would not even acknowledge any plans for the Chester property.

“We don’t own the property. We have no contract,” Spofford said. “I have no further comment.”

He did acknowledge Granite House’s interest in expanding.

“We do have plans of growth,” he said.

Robinson said she did not believe the Chester College property had been purchased. For sale signs were still displayed on the property last week.

Some residents said they had heard Granite House was abandoning the proposal because of opposition, but did not know for sure.

Granite House residents aren’t inmates. They are people recovering from addiction.

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