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January 04. 2013 10:43PM

Village Center District proposed for Windham

WINDHAM - A proposed ordinance to establish a Village Center District in Windham will appear on the town's 2013 ballot.

Final touches on the ordinance were completed during a public hearing at Wednesday night's Planning Board meeting. Following a brief discussion, the board unanimously agreed to move the item forward, though voters will have the final say this spring.

Early last year the town received a grant from the Rockingham Planning Commission to help develop zoning recommendations for future development of the Village District.

The Windham Planning Board formed a Village Center District subcommittee, which began meeting last June to assist in the new zoning ordinance amendments.

The area slated for a Village Center District is located along the Route 111 corridor and encompasses the town's center, including Town Hall, Griffin Park, the senior center, library, and fire and police stations. The corridor stretches north to south from the Windham Country Club to Cobbett's Pond, and east to west from Interstate 93 to London Bridge Road.

Since much of the land is privately owned, property owners would need to be ready and willing to throw their acreage behind the plan in order for a Village District to be created, and this spring's vote would be an early indicator of public support of the project.

While the ordinance originally emphasized a village center with open spaces, playgrounds and walkways, the subcommittee ultimately agreed to recommend appropriate commercial uses to make the project more appealing to property owners.

Under the updated ordinance, permitted uses in the Village Center include multipurpose structures, small retail operations totaling 10,000 square feet or less, restaurants and bakeries, offices, banks, pharmacies, medical officers, daycare centers, funeral homes and elder services facilities. Businesses such as fast food establishments with drive-throughs, gas stations, automotive repair shops, tattoo and body piercing parlors, adult-oriented businesses, animal kennels and gaming facilities won't be allowed in the Village Center. Businesses may be allowed to modify their building's size up to 15,000 square feet at the discretion of the planning department.

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April Guilmet may be reached at AGuilmet@newstote.com.

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