LACONIA — After rejecting a recommendation from the Planning Board to rezone a large portion of Weirs Boulevard in May, the City Council will revisit the issue when it meets Monday night with an eye to offering guidance to the board.
The proposal would have rezoned about 2.5 miles of the boulevard south of the Naswa resort to White Oaks Road from Commercial Resort (CR) to Shorefront Residential (SFR) and an area on Lake Street from the Margate Resort Commercial Resort to Commercial. It also changed 10 permitted uses within the new district. The plan was developed by the city's Zoning Task Force in response to the council's request that the Planning Board review the permitted uses within the CR district, which extends northward from White Oaks Road to the Meredith town line and also east along Route 11B to just beyond the Weirs Community Center.
The Planning Board recommended the change to limit commercial uses along Weirs Boulevard, which it claimed has become a residential neighborhood as the result of the conversion of many one-time motels and cottage colonies to condominiums as well as the construction of several new multifamily condominium complexes. However, after hearing opposition to restricting commerce in the area from business interests, the council scuttled the proposal.
In returning to the subject, Mayor Ed Engler said yesterday that the council seeks to indicate specific items in the CR zone that the Planning Board should address. For example, he questioned whether the uses of highway frontage in the CR district should be differentiated from those in the remainder of the district. Likewise, with so many vacant lots at the Weirs, should steps be taken to forestall residential development, which is permitted throughout the CR district, foreclosing opportunities for commercial or mixed-use development.
A "Smart Growth" team, sponsored and funded by the United States Environmental Protection, that visited the city in 2006 recommended refining the zoning at the Weirs to encourage a mix of commercial and residential development in 2007.
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