WALLINGFORD — Choate Rosemary Hall is seeking to renovate and expand its historic Hill House building, which was damaged in a fire last year.
“They’re repairing interior damage in the building and then they’re putting on an addition also,” said Tom Talbot, who is filling in while the town planner is on maternity leave.
Built in 1911, Hill House is a registered historic building which serves as student residences, as well as housing the private school’s dining hall and administrative offices.
The project requires the approval of the Planning and Zoning Commission, which will hold a public hearing on June 8 at 7 p.m.
Those interested in participating in the virtual hearing can submit questions to the Wallingford Planning and Zoning Department or call into the meeting at 646-749-3112 or by visiting the site global.gotomeeting.com/join/478479981.
The project would build two additions to the four-story building, one on the north side to allow for handicap accessibility and a second on the west side to create a new entrance.
Documents read at the Feb.18 Zoning Board of Appeals meeting state that the expansion is “necessary to provide improvements to accessibility, required accommodations, meeting updates to building code/requirements and, as well as better serving the safety and well-being of students and staff.”
The zoning board unanimously granted the project a variance from town regulations on building coverage and height, necessary since the building already exceeds town allowances for both.
During the ZBA meeting, Choate Chief Financial Officer Richard Saltz said that the damage required the building to be gutted. Other improvements to the building include increasing the size of the bathrooms, expanding elevator access to the fourth floor and modernizing HVAC and plumbing.
Lightning struck the building on July 22, 2019, causing the roof to ignite. No one was injured in the fire.
Since the school is in a residential zone, the expansion of Hill House requires a special permit, which Talbot said gives the commission more leeway in granting the application.
“By virtue of it being a special permit … the commission does have some discretion to take some broader issues into consideration,” Talbot said, including whether construction is in line with the neighborhood, for example.