PEPPERELL -- Jason Eisenberg of 81 South Road was one of only a handful of residents at the continuation of the Planning Board's Public Hearing on several proposed zoning amendments. Those amendments would result in changes to definitions of domestic animals and kennels, creation of a new neighborhood business district zone, rezoning of the Peter Fitzpatrick property and several abutting properties to the new district, and changes to the table of uses.
A number of South Road residents at the hearing two weeks ago took great interest in the proposed changes to the definitions of kennels to align with state definitions. At the time, the board's proposal had removed the definition of an accessory pet day care facility. However, this week, the board put forward a new set of definitions, including commercial board or training kennel, commercial breeder kennel, and personal kennel, leaving alone the current definition of accessory pet day care.
An accessory pet day care facility proposed for 80 South Road in 2011 failed to garner adequate votes from the Board of Selectmen at the time. Eisenberg suggested that the Planning Board consolidate their revised definitions for clarity.
"We need to have one article that does the following. One, it deletes the current definitions in kennel and dog day care. Two, it creates two new definitions, the same as the state's for commercial breeding kennels and commercial boarding and training kennels. And three, replaces the wording in prohibited uses in residential areas so that it prohibits both commercial breeding kennels and commercial boarding and training kennels. And it's important that all three parts be in one article, as they are interdependent," said Eisenberg.
"It helps to maintain the prohibition against the kinds of things that came up with this dog care kennel application in the last couple of years," he said.
"By leaving in the definitions currently there -- we're not affecting those at all -- we're only adding these new definitions and adding these new uses to the table of uses chart. Meaning it would be up to the zoning enforcement officer or the building inspector when someone presents something that they want to have that type of business, he would determine which category it falls into," explained Planning Administrator Susan Snyder.
"Town counsel said the revised version was good and it's not making anything more restrictive than what was proposed originally. And it still leaves in those two other definitions," she said.
The revised article had not been presented to the public until this week.
"Our purpose wasn't to overturn something at a previous Town Meeting," said Planner Matt Nesbitt, referring to the existing definition of an accessory pet care facility.
"You've got three separate definitions, one of which covers both of the other definitions. I think that really is extremely confusing," said Diane Karr, of 30 Elm St.
The board agreed by unanimous vote to withdraw the proposal to changes in the proposed zoning amendment definitions and any changes to the table of use as a result of that proposal. The board also modified the proposed article for the table of uses making adjustments to permitted uses in the proposed neighborhood business district.
"I raise the question of whether this is ready to go forward to Town Meeting yet. It needs better clarification," said Karr.
"I still have a great deal of concern about a mixed neighborhood business consideration. We shouldn't be talking about putting in a neighborhood business district," she said, raising additional concerns about fast food restaurants and traffic.
"It's never going to be perfect because you're never going to make everybody happy," said Planner Albert Patenaude.
"If people are part of the process, if we did get a committee together, if they were part of the process and if they could all agree on a neighborhood business district, then number one they would be more likely to support it at Town Meeting," said Nesbitt.
"I would feel more comfortable if this came from more than just us," he said.
"If that's a concern of yours tonight, it's the first I've heard it come out of your mouth," said Chairman Richard McHugh, who expressed frustration with Nesbitt's comments.
"If it becomes ours, we can't rent it out as apartment. But we might be able to keep the Peter Fitzpatrick intact and apply some of these uses and the town can create revenue from it in case something breaks. And, to me, it's irresponsible for us not to do that," said McHugh.
Rezoning of the Peter Fitzpatrick property to the proposed neighborhood business district would not go before the Town Meeting if the new zoning district fails to pass. However, if the new zoning district does pass at Town Meeting, rezoning of the Peter Fitzpatrick would also come to a vote.
The board voted to close the hearing and endorse the articles as amended. Deadline for the warrant article is Friday, April 12. The board voted to recommend the medical marijuana treatment center article, the Main Street rezoning article, and the Nashua Road rezoning article.