As business owners and homeowners in Pepperell, we wholeheartedly support the Citizens' Petition (Article 13) to change six parcels on Hollis Street, currently zoned "Town Residence," to "Commercial" zoning, and 11 parcels on Hollis Street, currently zoned "Urban Residence," to "Commercial" zoning as well. These parcels on Hollis Street include long established businesses such as Conway Services and Sales, Clark's Auto Body, The Family Tree, Matley Plumbing/Matley Pools, and the Independent Living facility. It also includes residential homes and one condominium building. That sounds like a strange mix, but that's the way the neighborhood evolved with the existing zoning.

The zoning change would allow the homes and condominiums in these parcels to operate businesses -- further increasing their flexibility when they want to sell their property. The zoning change would allow uses such as a bank or a professional office (see Pepperell Zoning Bylaws for a complete list). Downtown Groton has many fine examples of this conversion -- Citizens' Bank, Dr. Zale's dentist practice and Murphy's Insurance. It would also allow the many neighbors who live in the Hollis Street area job opportunities that they could walk to, maybe providing after-school jobs.

Under the current zoning, the existing businesses would revert to residences if their current operations ceased -- unless their successor performed substantially the same service, which severely limits their resale opportunities. That limitation is a disservice to those business owners who have operated in this community for many years, and who gave their time and energy to local organizations, have supported countless fundraisers, employed your friends and neighbors, and continue to provide services such as vehicle sales, vehicle repairs, plumbing, heating and pools, daycare and afterschool care and residential care for your relatives.

At the public hearing, the suggestion was that businesses could just be in Lomar Park, but we are full. As a member of the Lomar Park community, we are proud to say that there are 59 businesses and 439 employees in the park, one-third of those employees are Pepperell residents. These businesses mainly operate during normal business hours, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Because Lomar is a private road, we do not use town services such as snow-plowing and road repair; yet we pay the same tax rate as those who use those services. Operating approximately eight hours a day, our need for police, fire and ambulance services are reduced during the 16 hours each day we aren't operating our businesses. Most importantly, while businesses pay the same rate as residences, businesses do not send children to school.

Without a healthy base of commercial properties in town, residential property owners will continue to bear tax increases to maintain town and school services. If this portion of Hollis Street with five established businesses is not the place to increase commercial zoning, what part of town do you suggest?

John and Laurie Masiello

Masy Systems, Inc.

Lomar Park Drive,

Pepperell