Alpha Delta fraternity appealing Hanover zoning decision

by Erin Lee | 10/5/15 7:18pm

Alpha Delta fraternity is appealing the Hanover Zoning Board of Adjustment’s decision that forced members to vacate the house, AD chairperson Lionel Conacher ’85 said.

“We’re not suing the town, we’re not suing anybody,” he said. “We’re going through the normal appeal process that’s part of being a property owner.”

In August, the derecognized fraternity filed an appeal in the Grafton County Superior Court against the town of Hanover to contest the “incorrect” decision, he said.

“We want to be able to preserve our rights in the future to continue to use the house for residential purposes,” Conacher said.

Former AD president Ryan Maguire ’16 declined to be interviewed for this article and deferred comment to Conacher.

Students lived in the house throughout the summer, Hanover town manager Julia Griffin said. The town sent AD a notice in early September that ordered students to move out of the house as the fraternity was no longer recognized by the College and thus cannot function as a student residence, she said.

Fraternity representatives are arguing that the 9 East Wheelock residence should be exempt from the zoning ordinance, Griffin said.

She said under the current ordinance, AD’s house is in an institutional zone because of its location on Dartmouth’s campus. While the fraternity was recognized by the College, the house operated as a student residence, she said. At this point, allowing students to live in the house would require it to be a private residence, which is not allowed within an institutional zone.

“They would have to get a special exception from the zoning board,” she said.

She added that the basis of the fraternity’s appeal is whether the house is grandfathered, meaning the house is exempt from Hanover’s current zoning ordinance because the house hosted students before the ordinance was put in place.

According to zoning board documents, the board denied AD’s grandfather clause appeal in a ruling on June 4. The decision was not unanimous — chair Carolyn Radisch and board members Arthur Gardiner and H. Bernard Waugh Jr. voted to deny AD’s appeal, while Katherine Connolly and David Donegan voted to approve it. Connolly and Radisch did not respond to requests for comment.

Both Griffin and Conacher confirmed that the house and its parking lot have been vacant since AD received notice from the town before the term started.

“For the foreseeable future, the house should remain vacated until this issue is resolved,” Griffin said.

AD was derecognized as a student organization effective April 20, a decision related to the branding of new members last fall and violations of terms of its suspension, including hosting unregistered parties and serving alcohol to minors. At the time of AD’s derecognition, the College asked members to move out of the house — though many elected not to, under the advisement of AD’s zoning and land use attorney, Maguire said last spring.

The fraternity appealed to reverse the College’s decision in May, but Provost Carolyn Dever denied the request after approximately three weeks of deliberation. AD’s newly elected board of directors voted not to accept a rush class this fall.

Hanover police chief Charlie Dennis said that last November that the police department had received information that some form of hazing had occurred at AD. Hanover police investigated the claims and determined toward the end of this past summer that no criminal offense had occurred, he said.

Dennis said the police have had no involvement the dispute over AD’s residence.

Conacher said there is no set timeline for the appeal, as it depends on how long it takes the court to assign a hearing date.

A decision from the superior court on the case could be a “lengthy process” that could take many months, Griffin said, as the court is backlogged due to understaffing and underfunding.