DERRY — Town planners hope to change zoning near the historic Robert Frost Farm to protect the poet's homestead while encouraging growth and development.

The Planning Board will hold a public hearing Oct. 6 to consider its proposed General Commercial III District on Route 28 near the Frost Farm.

If approved, the plan to rezone that area would then go to the Town Council for a final vote.

After months of workshops and public input, the Planning Board hopes to change the zone to encourage development near the Frost Farm. But planners also want to preserve the integrity of the simple homestead where the poet lived for a decade with his wife and four children while teaching at nearby Pinkerton Academy.

Several business owners approached the town about a possible rezoning of that area of Route 28 so growth could occur without harming the natural surroundings and historical richness of the farm.

Frost Farm supporters also gave input about the farm and what could be done to help area businesses while keeping the farm safe from nearby development.

Planners came up with the new zone, GCIII, which would allow architecture to complement the Frost site and would be subject to specific design regulations.

New buildings could not be higher than the current Frost buildings. Businesses that would be allowed in the new zone include professional offices, restaurants, retail, banks and pharmacies. Banks and pharmacies would be restricted to one drive-through window. Excluded uses include sexually oriented businesses, car sales and wireless communication facilities.

George Reynolds was one of the original business owners to approach the town about a possible rezoning of that part of Route 28. During the workshop process, he said he was happy with the direction things were going.

"It seems like everything is going in a good direction," he said.

Other business owners along the southern portion of Route 28 heading toward Salem are hoping growth can occur there. Many business owners gathered earlier this month at the MetroMarket to voice opinions and concerns about where Derry is headed and what can be done for those doing business at that end of town.

Another meeting is planned to keep the dialogue going as Derry officials continue to work on economic development strategies.

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