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September 06. 2012 11:17PM

Planners meet resistance to Derry zoning changes

DERRY — The planning board is starting fresh with its proposed zoning changes for the Webster's Corner section of East Derry.

This week the board held a second public hearing on the proposed zoning change of 26 parcels in that area from General Commercial to office/medical/business.

At the hearing, a number of the business owners who would be affected by the zoning change spoke out against it and presented a zoning protest petition signed by all 26 property owners.

Although the current businesses would be grandfathered in under the new zoning and many of the general commercial uses would remain on the books, there were concerns raised about limiting automotive sales and filling stations in the zone.

Under the zoning change, single-family homes would also be prohibited from the zone.

Jerry and Beth Siragusa, who own and operate a day-care center and an antique store on South Main Street, read a letter from a real estate appraiser stating that the change in zoning would limit potential uses if they attempted to sell their property.

“Anytime a town narrows the use of the property, it is taking development rights from you and limiting future use,” Jerry Siragusa said.”

The proposal is unnecessary and affects property values and commercial uses. Our feeling is that we would like it to stay general commercial and work with the town on certain types of development that might be beneficial to the town.”

Town planning director George Sioras presented several potential changes to the original zoning change proposal, including changing the zone from office/medical/business to a business commercial district.

Acting on a suggestion from a previous public hearing, Sioras said the planning board could consider allowing automotive sales and filling stations in the district, provided they were a certain distance apart. In some area towns, automotive sales must be at least 2,000 feet apart.

Town Administrator John P. Anderson and Town Councilor David Milz both said the original intent of the zoning change was not to restrict development, but find ways to spur better development for the area once the town completes the extension of municipal water and sewer to the district.

“The town as a whole wants you all to succeed,” said Anderson. “We want what is the best and highest use of the land once the town pays to put water and sewer down.”

If the automotive sales were allowed with restrictions, Milz said the major change to the district would be restricting single-family homes. He said the original intent of the revised zoning district was to not have developments of 60 or 70 single-family homes on a large tract of commercial land.

“Our intent was not to limit, but to add more things,” he said.

The planning board voted down the original proposal for the office/medical/business district so it could start on a new proposal incorporating some of the suggestions from the landowners and Sioras.

The board will hold a workshop meeting on a new zoning revision document at its meeting on Oct. 3, with the possibility of holding a public hearing on a new proposal at a subsequent meeting.

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Adam Swift may be reached at aswift@newstote.com.


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