DERRY — A proposed new zoning district in town could pave the way for unique development opportunities in an area also known for its history.

The planning board hosts a public hearing July 17 to consider the proposed West Running Brook District, an area intended to retain the character of the history and landscape while also supporting development and environmental resource protection.

Officials began hearing details months ago on what the new area could mean for Derry and its economic growth.

With town water and sewer service now extended down Rockingham Road toward Salem, the proposed zone could host possible growth with multi-use retail/housing and other permitted uses.

At a planning board meeting back in January, town Planning Director George Sioras said the area has a lot of history. That's how the new district got its name.

"We call it the West Running Brook District because of the history in the area," Sioras said at that earlier meeting. "And we are looking at it in terms of future development. It's not on a big scale like Woodmont Commons or a Tuscan Village, but it's one of the last parts of town with a nice aesthetic look."

The zone includes West Running Brook Middle School, the historic Robert Frost Farm and areas stretching over to include portions of property on Rockingham Road, Island Pond Road, and Humphrey Road.

The plan, if approved, could make that area more friendly, open, and connect businesses with housing, schools, parks and green space.

The new district would encourage a mix of land uses, including residential, small scale retail/commercial, recreation and conservation that could be built in close proximity to each other.

Uses allowed in the district include banks, performing and fine arts schools and studios, conference centers, day care centers, hotels, inn-style businesses, indoor commercial recreation, medical, manufacturing, movie/recording studios, restaurants and professional offices.

Allowed housing development would be multi-family residential, and a more smaller-scale village-styled development that could have interconnected paths and walkways, streetscapes and access for bicycles and pedestrians to use.

Development would also have to follow zoning design standards on height and style.

"The intent is to maintain the character of the district," the zoning document states.

Any proposed development near the Robert Frost Farm on Rockingham Road would also have to follow rules to help maintain the poet's homestead and its historic character.

The public hearing starts at 7 p.m. on July 17 in the third-floor meeting at the Derry Municipal Center.

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