Planning Subcommittee to Study Central Business District Zoning

The Planning Board decided during an Oct. 14 workshop to direct a subcommittee to recommend changes in the Central Business District (CBD).

Areas of the zoning ordinance scheduled for discussion during the workshop were height restrictions, residential buffers and parking requirements; but as time constraints became apparent, the Board agreed it would be best to delegate the task to a subcommittee.

When considering eliminating a section regulating home occupations, which would restrict new construction of single-family homes in the CBD, Brian Chirichiello of 6 Rollins St. warned the Board that making the language too restrictive could make it impossible for single-family homeowners already in the CBD to complete some renovations without a variance.

“If they wanted to add a small room onto their home, they couldn’t – and I think that’s a problem,” Chirichiello said. ”The other thing to think about is as there’s more pressure to build homes, you’re going to see people combining lots to build homes.”

The board also discussed the merits of leaving “bus depots” in the ordinance as an acceptable use in the downtown.

“If you have mixed use and apartments downtown, you need to have a way for people who don’t have their own transportation to get around,” Planning Assistant Elizabeth Robidoux said. “I think this should be left in looking to the future.”

Members agreed a bus depot would be appropriate in the downtown, noting with larger depots nearby in Londonderry and Manchester, it’s unlikely the Town would see a large or disruptive station built in Derry’s downtown area.

“We’re only discussing max, maybe five buses rotating through, and they would be shorter buses,” Alternate member Marc Flattes said.

“We would also want to be sure to limit traffic to keep the downtown pedestrian friendly and preserve the downtown experience,” Alternate Lori Davison noted.

Also considered during the workshop were density requirements for multi-use buildings and maintaining appropriate height requirements for new construction.

Members agreed it may be beneficial to amend the ordinance to limit building or structure height in the district to 10 percent of the average height of other buildings within a 250-foot circumference of the lot.

The Board’s next step toward amending the CBD is to send out an email to gauge interest among potential volunteers to the subcommittee.