DERRY — It could be a way to bring more business and housing to Derry while helping the community grow and prosper.

Officials recently continued discussion of a possible West Running Brook Village District, a section of Derry that might be ripe for economic growth.

With town water and sewer service now extended down Rockingham Road toward Salem, the 170 acres could host possible growth with multi-use retail/housing and other uses.

At a meeting Feb. 6, planning board members continued talks about what might be allowed there and what not be a good fit.

The area is now zoned General Commercial IV and has a list of accepted uses that could be developed there.

The area has a lot of history.

The zone includes West Running Brook Middle School, the historic Robert Frost Farm, and areas of open land, existing businesses and various uses already allowed in the town's zoning rules.

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

At the recent workshop, board members spent time discussing housing and what kinds of residential plans might work in this potentially new district, or what might not be suitable.

Town Economic Development Director Beverly Donovan said the face of development is changing, adding mixed-use projects are starting to look like nearby Woodmont Commons in Londonderry and Tuscan Village in Salem where there is a sense of community while offering housing and business in a collaborative design.

People are needing different, smaller types of housing when ready to downsize. That, Donovan said, could be part of a plan that combines the housing element with business development.

"People are coming off three acres, just want to downsize to a smaller option," Donovan said. "There really aren't a lot of options unless you want a garden-style, townhouse style."

Smaller mixed-use development could potentially suit Derry well, Donovan said, adding she has spoken with developers and others who may be interested in planning projects in this area.

"A variety of people are looking to do things in Derry, but we don't have the land," she said. "Landowners in this area may be interested in opportunities. People want to know what they can do."

More discussion on the issue will happen at a Planning Board meeting next month.

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