Development of West Campus Needs Town Zoning Changes

Tuck row from baker library
A view toward the west end of campus from Baker-Berry Library. West campus is home to Thayer School of Engineering and the Tuck School of Business. (Photo by Eli Burakian ’00)

As Dartmouth plans the expansion and improvement of the west end of campus, Hanover Town Meeting voters will go to the polls to decide whether to approve two zoning changes needed for the expansion work.

Voters will also cast ballots on a third zoning change—this one unrelated to the west campus work—that would allow the College to upgrade its Nordic ski facility to meet NCAA standards and to construct other structures associated with outdoor recreation.

The ballot voting for Hanover residents will take place tomorrow, May 10, from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., at Hanover High School, the day the town holds its annual Town Meeting to decide budgetary matters related to municipal operations and to elect town officials.

“We hope our employees and students who are Hanover residents will vote to support the zoning changes, which will allow the College to provide increased opportunities for research and scholarly collaboration,” says Lisa Hogarty, vice president of campus services. “The changes we anticipate will also result in enhanced pedestrian, cyclist, and vehicular safety on West Wheelock Street and throughout the west end of campus.”

Dartmouth’s plans for the west campus include building expansions at Thayer School of Engineering and the Tuck School of Business; construction of a parking facility under the new Thayer building; safety improvements to the intersection of West Wheelock Street and Thayer Drive; enhancement of outdoor spaces to open the view of the Connecticut River; and connection from the Green through the town-owned Dartmouth Cemetery to the river. 

“The changes, now in the planning stages, will create a more vibrant, pedestrian-friendly west campus,” says Hogarty.

The zoning articles, all of which are recommended by the Hanover Planning board, would:

  • Amend the Hanover zoning ordinance to modify building height and setback standards in the institution (I) zoning district, only where this district adjoins lots in the general residence-2 (GR-2) district abutting New Hampshire Route 10A. The change would allow for a building height of 60 feet, the current height limit within the “I” zoning district, and eliminate the 35-foot height limit within 150 feet of the GR-2 residential district on Route 10A.

The amendment would also provide a 20-foot rear setback and 10-foot side setback from the GR-2 properties abutting the I district in this area. This setback is the same as that in other portions of the GR-2 district and modifies the current zoning requirement of 75-foot side and rear setbacks where the I district abuts the GR-2 district.

  • Add a section to the zoning ordinance to permit improvements, such as managing storm water erosion and making landscaping improvements near and within a burial ground or cemetery, after review by the town’s public works director and selectboard. State law prohibits construction, excavation, or building of nonessential services within 25 feet of a burial site or within boundaries of an established burial ground or cemetery, unless the work complies with local zoning regulations.
  • Amend the zoning ordinance definition of “outdoor recreation” to clarify that buildings and structures associated with outdoor recreation are permitted by special exception. The modified definition allows for a wider array of structures supporting outdoor recreational activity to be constructed with approval of the town zoning board. This amendment will more clearly permit potential development of a Nordic skiing facility at Oak Hill that meets NCAA requirements, as well as other improvements, such as snow-making, development of cross country ski competition courses, warming huts, and restrooms.
Image removed.There had been a bridge over the cemetery, as shown in this photograph from the Rauner Special Collections Library. (Photo courtesy of Rauner Library)
Susan J. Boutwell