Planning Department Hosts Commercial Zoning Workshop

In an attempt to clean up Londonderry’s zoning structure, the Planning Board held a workshop during their latest meeting on Feb. 14 to delve into matters concerning commercial zoning districts.

More specifically, Town Planner Colleen Mailloux, who expanded upon the vast amount of details that this overhaul would involve, noted that the restructuring would revolve around the Route 102 and Route 28 corridors, as they currently suffer from sporadic zoning over commercial one and two districts.  On top of this, there is also some major confusion over the purpose of nearby performance overlay districts.

Thus, in order to remedy both situations, town staff hope to amend the districts so that they would all be combined into a commercial performance zone, improving the overall design aesthetics of the districts.

According to Mailloux, roughly six hundred commercial parcels would be affected by the change, while commercial use areas would now make room for more allowed purpose plans, as opposed to permitted use.  As such, things like public recreation projects and group child care situations would be opened for these zones.

One thing of note was that several properties within the affected area are residential lots that contain residents, but Mailloux commented that town staff are well aware of this.

“We’re trying to be sensitive in how we’re handling rezoning”, Mailloux noted.

Ultimately, Mailloux was looking for direction from the board that night, as she realized that such an amendment would be a serious change to Londonderry and would require a major vetting process that could not simply be done overnight.  She also admitted that the amendment mainly served to put more design control in the hands of the board, giving them more say on dimensional standards, instead of having to run certain things by the Zoning Board of Adjustments.

On top of this, Mailloux noted that the amendment would still make sure that any new projects would still have to fit the overall vision of what the areas are supposed to focus on and that a strong public notice campaign would be necessary as the changes are more clearly established so that residents could get involved early on.

There were still some concerns from the board, with member Ann Champa worried that local historical areas like the Lithia Springs could possibly opened up to something like a gas station, and felt that both general historic areas and significant environmental locations needed protection.  Furthermore, these broadened standards left several members worried over what kind of impact permitted uses could have on other projects.

Mailloux, once again, reminded the board that the amendment is still in its early stages and will still require a lot of fine tuning before it can become official.

“I know that there are flaw and problems, and we will try to correct these things”, Mailloux stated.

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