By Julie Huss
---- — DERRY — Planning Board members will explore a zoning change proposal to allow 55-plus housing in the office/medical/business zone.
That zone near Parkland Medical Center is being eyed by developer Elmer Pease and partner Robert Howard for a possible elderly housing project.
The Planning Board is forming a subcommittee to explore whether bringing this type of housing to that area near would be a good fit for Derry.
The property is a 27-acre parcel on Rockingham Road and has been “bounced around” many times, officials say, through its history.
It was once approved for a one-story medical building. That plan fell through as approval time lapsed.
The location now is key for a new project as it is close to downtown Derry and the hospital, Pease said.
“People would like to see affordable elderly housing here,” he said. “I think it would be a good mix.”
To bring the project forward, officials would have to consider changing current zoning regulations in that area to include the proposed non-assisted type of elderly housing.
Pease suggested the town look at its zoning language and how “elderly” is defined.
Town Administrator John Anderson said the project may be complex and time would be needed if the plan moves forward.
Putting a subcommittee in place will begin the process.
“I need to find out what are the benefits and what are the drawbacks for the community,” Anderson said.
If zoning changes were made to allow this type of housing, Anderson said, it would affect a small part of the district.
“You’ve got the hospital and then it is surrounded by the Alexander-Carr property, which we own,” he said. “We’re really talking about a strip of Rockingham Road that makes any sense at all and that abuts the General Commercial zone.”
The subcommittee will begin meeting soon to continue talks on possible 55-plus housing in that area of town and will bring in more experts to help sort out some of the details on regulations and what is and isn’t allowed.