Second Hearing Planned on Downtown Zoning Amendments

The Planning Board will hold a second public hearing on proposed amendments to the requirements for the Central Business and Traditional Business Overlay zones, after reviewing the changes and making more at its April 15 meeting.

The board reviewed adding definitions to the permitted uses in the district, which comprises Derry’s downtown area, and amended other definitions. It also amended the permitted uses, density requirements, building height, parking and buffer zones.

Planning Director George Sioras said the revisions were the work of a subcommittee that met several times. The town’s attorney, Brenda Keith, reviewed the changes and made some suggestions.

Code Enforcement Officer Bob Mackey spoke to Keith’s suggestions, which concerned the number of parking spaces allowed for multifamily housing. The current ordinance calls for 1.25 spaces per bedroom. With condominiums, that calculation did not leave enough spaces for visitors, Mackey said.

The draft of the revisions at first called for 2.5 spaces per unit of multifamily housing, but, Mackey said, with that calculation they could end up having fewer spaces.

He suggested 1.5 or 1.75 spaces per bedroom.

Member Jim MacEachern said, “I’m not a fan of a lot of extra parking spaces, but I’m okay with 1.5.”

MacEachern recommended changing the parking calculations to 1.5 spaces per bedroom, with a minimum of two spaces per dwelling unit.

Keith also expressed concern about the definition of “office” in the ordinance. She distinguished between “general office” and “professional office,” and suggested the word “general” be removed from “general office.”

“It’s the difference between a ‘trade’ office and a doctor’s office,” MacEachern said, to which member Michael Fairbanks responded, “But we have a separate definition for ‘doctor’s office.’”

“It could mean a lawyer,” alternate member Marc Flattes said.

“Removing ‘general’ should take care of it,” Vice-Chair John O’Connor said.

The board also discussed creating parking spaces for compact cars. MacEachern advised against it, saying this would create a hassle.

“Don’t force it,” Fairbanks agreed, while Chairman David Granese said, “The site itself would determine whether they were needed.”

The board agreed to have anyone wanting space for compact cars go through a waiver process.

The board voted 7-0 to approve the changes.

The second public hearing will be held in the May 6 meeting.