Churches are allowed in every town zoning district in Derry. Mackey wasn’t sure how to categorize Doolittle’s plan.
“This is not a church in the traditional sense of the word,” Doolittle said. “It’s not a building with a steeple.”
Doolittle has support from other residents.
Tammy Gray said she thought Doolittle’s vision would be a good one.
“I think it would be good for the community, the fact that there is nothing wrong with what I think he is doing,” she said.
But Richard Callahan, who also lives on Old Chester Road, said there were too many gray areas in Doolittle’s plan.
“He’s asking for housing to be put there,” Callahan said. “Is this a church or a retreat center?”
Doolittle said if his plan is approved he would somehow transfer its control to the Unitarian Universalist group. He also said he is not trying to avoid paying any taxes if the retreat center is considered a worship area.
Zoning Board Chairman Alan Virr said the group needed more information before any decision could be made. Doolittle will continue to provide more details on his plan.
He wants to continue to keep his property valued for generations to come.
“I am trying to keep it open, trying to keep it special,” he said. “I don’t want it to disappear when I’m gone. The land there is sacred to me.”