Alpha Delta obtains permit to use house for offices

by Eileen Brady | 3/2/18 2:45am

The Alpha Delta Alumni Corporation received final authorization to use its house as an alumni office space by the town of Hanover last week, according to Hanover director of planning, zoning and codes Robert Houseman.

Prior to AD’s derecognition in April 2015, the house was classified as a student residence. Since March 2017, when the Dartmouth Board of Trustees announced that AD would not be re-recognized as a fraternity, the officers of the AD Alumni Corporation have been working with the town of Hanover to find a new use for the house, according to corporation president John Pepper ’91 Tu’97. Last summer, AD submitted an initial application to use the house as office space, which was denied on the grounds that the proposed use did not align with the ownership interests of running a fraternity, as stated in the organization’s bylaws, Houseman said.

In April 2017, the New Hampshire Supreme Court upheld the Hanover Zoning Board’s decision that AD cannot use its house as a student residence without being affiliated with the College, prompting the AD Alumni Corporation to look for other uses for the house.

“At the beginning, their bylaws were focused on running an undergraduate fraternity, which was not permissible in this location because fraternities, which are considered student residences, must be operated in conjunction with the institution [Dartmouth],” he said.

Under Hanover zoning law, property in the institutional zone — an area roughly corresponding to Dartmouth’s campus — must be used in a manner consistent with institution of ownership’s — in this case, AD’s — own institutional purposes, according to Houseman. This prompted AD to change its bylaws so that using the house as an office would be consistent with its own institutional uses, now that it is no longer an undergraduate fraternity. Shortly after this change was made, AD submitted a revised application in fall 2017 and received approval from the town to use the house as office space, contingent on some modifications, Houseman said.

After the town granted its preliminary approval last fall, the AD corporation began working to update the house to comply with town codes and standards, Pepper said. This work included updating the house to meet Americans with Disabilities Act accessibility standards and removing any features, such as “lofts,” that could allow someone to reside in the home, as residence is no longer a permitted use for the property, he said.

No professional offices have been created in the house yet, according to Pepper. However, the process of transforming rooms of the house into spaces that can be used for offices, meetings and alumni events is still underway. In the future, AD alumni will be able to return to the house for events, he said.

“For now, at least, we have a place that a lot of very supportive alumni can feel very comfortable [in],” Pepper said. “We’re going to have fun with it. It’ll be good.”

AD alumnus John Whitney Crowley ’56, who returns to campus every five years for reunions and annually for Homecoming, said he looks forward to being able to use the house as a space to gather with other AD alumni when they return to Hanover.

While Pepper said he is aware that people are curious about the house, he wishes that people would stop breaking its windows.

“We had a break in [Feb. 28], and it was undergrads ... When we were undergrads, we had to fix a lot of windows,” he said. “We don’t want to fix windows anymore.”

According to Pepper, the next steps for the AD corporation include having important discussions about how AD, in its new form, can benefit Dartmouth.

“How can this serve Dartmouth in a better way? How can it be helpful in Moving Dartmouth Forward, if that’s possible?” Pepper said.

Pepper added that in the AD alumni community, there is significant interest in the house’s use, most of which has been very positive.

“There have been a lot of emails and phone conversations,” Crowley said. “Everybody has been pretty deeply involved; there’s a pretty tight level of communication.”