Zoning changes would expand Milford’s commercial area

MILFORD – Four zoning changes that would ease the development of a large stretch of land between South Street and Ponemah Hill Road in Milford will be on the zoning ballot in March.

The amendments change the zoning on portions of land between South Street and Ponemah Hill Road and could bring multi-family housing and businesses to about 70 acres of undeveloped land near the intersection of Route 101 and Route 13 that are now zoned residential.

At the Planning Board’s public hearing Jan. 7 a few residents who live near the property expressed concerns, including Maureen O’Reilly who was unhappy over the clearing of the land.

“I was quite devastated to watch them strip trees,” from the area, said O’Reilly, who said she has lived on Ponemah Hill Road for 31 years and is worried about drainage and “the way the whole neighborhood is going to change.”

If the town agrees to change the zoning to limited commercial, “we will have no idea what will be there,” she said,

The zoning proposals came out of talks on land use with the town’s Economic Development Advisory Committee and out of board discussions on whether the proposal is in line with the town’s Master Plan. The proposals also came after developer Steve Desmarais suggested changes that would help him develop the property, a situation Planning Board Chairwoman Janet Langdell called “not uncommon.”

The changes rezone parts of lots now in the Residence B district to Commercial, which would permit commercial development, making it a mixed use area.

Because of the highway access and because other development in the area is mostly commercial, “we thought it was a good idea,” Langdell said.

Other properties or portions of properties would change from Residence A to Limited Commercial Business, which would allow a variety of uses, including offices, schools, health services, two-family houses, home occupations and farm stands.

Commercial designation would allow a broader range of businesses, including motor vehicle sales and repair.

“The key,” Langdell said, “is that commercial allows retail.”

While the board doesn’t agree with Desmarais’s entire plan, she said, it makes sense for the town to allow more commercial businesses in an area where existing development is mostly commercial and where there is quick access to Route 101.

After the hearing, the Planning Board voted unanimously to put the amendments on the zoning ballot for the March 11 town election.

Information on the amendments can be found on the town website at http://www.milford.nh.gov/sites/milford.nh.gov/files/WebSiteFINAL

Kathy Cleveland can be reached at kcleveland@cabinet.com or 673-3100, ext. 304.