By CHELSEY POLLOCK
Union Leader Correspondent
DERRY -- Commending the Planning Board and stakeholders surrounding the Robert Frost Farm for their efforts, the Derry Town Council unanimously approved a request to rezone the farm and its direct buffer area under a new limited-commercial designation.
A total of 12 parcels along the stretch of Route 28 from Berry Road to Rockingham Acres Garden Center are affected by the rezone. Split between Medium Density Residential and Office Research and Development zones, the existing properties contain a mix of residential and business uses. The state owns four of the 12 parcels, according to town records.
Under the new zone, called General Commercial III, commercial uses are limited to professional offices, full-service restaurants, pharmacies, retail stores of less than 5,000 square feet and banks of more than 1,500 square feet.
Zoning requires that architecture of new construction be in line with that of the Frost Farm and that no building stand taller than the tallest structure on the farm site, according to the amendment text. Any signs will also be required to complement the existing architectural style and include no internal lighting or electronic text or images.
Prohibited commercial uses include wireless communication towers and “sexually oriented businesses,” according to the amendment.
After receiving a rezoning request from two residents, the Planning Board began an 18-month process of workshops and public hearings in the summer of 2009. In that time, the board met with Frost Farm trustees, abutting landowners and representatives from the state to iron out just what an amendment would look like.
“A well thought out zoning amendment was created,” said town Planning Director George Sioras on Tuesday, “which balanced the need for future development and tax base expansion for the town, as well as the wishes of the property owners and the sensitivity in working with and obtaining the support of the historic preservation community.”
Planning Board Chairman David Granese also addressed the board Tuesday in support of the amendment.
“The Planning Board worked hard and many citizens of Derry took time out of their busy schedules to attend the workshops and I thank them all,” Granese said.
In a letter to the council read into the record Tuesday night, state Historic Bureau Program Specialist Benjamin Wilson further applauded the Planning Board’s efforts.
“I believe the process carried out by the board should be the model for other communities when dealing with issues that have the possibility of polarizing a community,” Wilson wrote to the council.
With little discussion, councilors unanimously approved the rezoning at Tuesday’s meeting.