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Enhanced identity is key concern for Pinardville at 'Planapalooza'

GOFFSTOWN - Pinardville residents and business owners want more civic spaces, an increased tax base and an enhanced identity for their section of town, which means making the neighborhood more walkable and welcoming to others who may come from elsewhere.

"Right now it's just blah. There's nothing to attract people from other towns to come here," said Lynne Filteau. "We need to beautify this town and make it more attractive for people to stay here."

Filteau's comment was made last night during an open forum of "Planapalooza for Pinardville," a week-long series of workshops and planning events designed to get people thinking about and creating a vision for Pinardville, a section of town that has densely populated residential neighborhoods abutting the commercial hub of Goffstown, where two major supermarkets are located as well as dozens of small and mid-sized businesses. About 30 residents turned out Sunday night to discuss ways in which they would like to see Pinardville develop in the future.

The Planapalooza is being funded through a $50,000 grant from the New Hampshire Housing Authority, which allowed the town to hire a Tennessee consulting firm to conduct a study of the area and lead discussions about ways in which Pinardville can be improved.

"One reason why people don't walk (in Pinardville) is because you don't have walkable streets," said Brian Wright of the Tennessee firm Town Planning and Urban Design Collaborative LLC. "Having sidewalks doesn't mean you have walkable streets."

Wright described Mast Road, where most of the businesses are located, as Pinardville's spine, and the many small residential streets that sprout off it as the ribs of the community. And while he noted that residences and businesses take up much of the land area of Pinardville, there are some parcels that could be converted for use as outdoor civic spaces. One such parcel he identified abuts the Bartlett Elementary School to the north.

An important component to making changes in Pinardville would be making current zoning regulations less restrictive and bound up in bureaucratic processes.

"If you want to build an accessory dwelling unit in your house, you have to ask for a special exception. Right now that's the rule," said Brian Rose, Goffstown's town planner. "I have to tell people 'I'm sorry, but you have to go to the zoning board first.'" Rose said it would be better and more efficient if that type of rule was eliminated from the current zoning ordinance.

Wright said there are tweaks that can be made to the zoning in Pinardville that would give some consistency to the map while also easing the building or use restrictions attached to certain zoning designations.

Another topic of discussion last night was sustainability, with various individuals providing varying definitions for the word. Rose said his notion of sustainability is linked to the idea of buying locally and supporting local businesses.

There was also discussion about traffic. Because of the high concentration of businesses coupled with densely populated residential streets, that section of Goffstown experiences the heaviest traffic flow.

"The traffic on Mast Road is not all because of the businesses," said Wright. Much of the traffic there, he said, can be attributed to the neighborhoods off Mast Road.

Any centralized civic space should include a flagpole and a veterans' memorial, said local business owner John Hikel. "I don't see anywhere in these plans where there's anything like that," he said. "A nice big American flag is important to our identity."

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