Rochester church to sell some of its land

Jul 28, 2020

ROCHESTER — The First Congregational Church of Rochester will sell two acres of its land to the town to finance much-needed building repairs. 

The congregation needs to pay for $150,000 of repairs to its 1837 building. These include repairs to the church’s ceiling and the vestry bell tower. 

The Chairman of the church’s Board of Trustees, Richard Cutler appeared before the Planning Board on July 28 to get a formal approval to divide the church’s lot. 

He called it a “painful decision to carve off two acres,” but said that “for years the church has been doing just enough [in repairs] to get by. Now, we can’t get by anymore.”

The church owns the land around and behind the one acre that the town owns for Town Hall, so it carved off an additional two acres around what the town currently owns. 

The land has already been appraised, and its value set at $160,000. The church decided to sell it for that value, and Selectmen elected to not pay more than that for the land.  

Town Meeting voters approved the purchase of two acres near Town Hall at the June 22 Rochester Town Meeting. At the time, Selectmen said the land would be used by the town, but that it does not yet have a precise use for the space.  

Though Planning Board members had few comments on the proposal, Town Counsel Blair Bailey wanted to be sure that both of the proposed lots are buildable lots once you take into account the setback. 

He said he didn’t think it would be enough of a problem to stop the division, but just doing the mental math making sure that both lots have enough room to build was “tight.” 

Board members approved the division, subject to the church putting the dimensions on its plan.