By John Toole
---- — PELHAM — The Planning Board is holding hearings on a proposed mixed use zoning district for the town center.
Voters are expected to act on the proposal during Town Meeting on March 11.
Planning director Jeff Gowan said the proposal, two years in development, recognizes what’s already happening in the town center, as well as the vision of what the community wants to see.
It allows 30 uses, including residential, civic institutions, churches, restaurants, bakeries, galleries and professional offices.
The overlay district would encompass sections of Windham Road, Nashua Road, Main Street and Old Bridge Street.
It takes in the Senior Center, the Historical Society, the Veterans of Foreign Wars post, St. Patrick’s Church, First Congregational Church, as well as neighborhoods near the town complex around the Village Green.
“We realized, in reality, Pelham Center has been mixed use for decades,” Gowan said.
The proposal is four pages in length, gives the detailed list of uses and is simple to understand, he said.
The first hearing will be held 7 p.m. tomorrow at Town Hall.
A second will be held on Monday, Jan. 6.
Residents can view copies of the proposal at Town Hall or by visiting pelhamweb.com and looking under the Planning Department section.
“The district is intended to accommodate a physical pattern of pedestrian-friendly, mixed-use development that is traditionally found in neighborhoods within town centers throughout New England,” the proposal reads.
Gowan said officials are hoping the district will make Pelham Center more interesting and vibrant, without changing the character of the town center.
The zoning proposal might encourage a bakery or coffee shop in the short term, but development is likely to be gradual and not fully realized for 10 or even 20 years, Gowan said.
“It’s really about establishing a vision,” he said.
The zoning proposal coincides with the construction of twin roundabouts in the town center and the recent construction of a new fire station by the Village Green.
Gowan said there may be an opportunity for sidewalk construction in the area.
Officials who have worked on the zoning proposal have heard in recent months from residents and the business community.
The Planning Board also will hold a hearing concerning a proposed zoning ordinance amendment related to senior and elderly housing and the separation between structures.