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Gwen and Daniel Cote, owners of Cote’s Diner in Pinardville, hope to sell their business and retire. Those plans, they said, could be ruined if Plan Pinardville’s proposed development along Mast Road, Pinard Street and Laurier Street is approved. (SUSAN CLARK PHOTO)

See a threat

Pinardville diner owners see development as a threat

GOFFSTOWN — Gwen and Daniel Cote Sr. have owned Cote’s Diner for 46 years and now they are afraid Plan Pinardville will ruin their business and affect their quality of life.

Cote’s Diner sits on the corner of Mast Road and Pinard Street, and has been designated as a site for proposed development to establish a new civic space that will become the heart of a new mixed-use neighborhood center and an enhanced gateway to Goffstown.

Planners envision a four-way intersection across Mast Road, the realignment of Laurier Street for a civic area attached to Cote’s Diner, and outdoor dining and a gathering place with mixed-use buildings. According to the plan: “Wide sidewalks, generous planting strips with street trees, and the relocation of power lines would all greatly improve the visual appearance of this area and thus the gateway into Goffstown and Pinardville. Assuring adequate on-street parking should remain a priority.”

Because of this plan, the Cotes say they are fighting for their business and their right to home ownership.

“In this proposed plan, a public common is taking away all of our parking at the diner, and the common is partially on our land,” said Gwen Cote. “Our home is next door on Laurier Street, and the entire front will be blocked off by this plan. I wouldn’t even have a place to come into my home.”

Also proposed is a street on which a narrow driveway now leads from Pinard Street to a parking lot for diners and to the Cotes’ home.

“After 46 years in business, this is the thank you card we get from the town of Goffstown,” said Daniel Cote.

The Cotes have been operating their business since 1968 when it was Cote’s Pastry Shop. Since then, they have tried to acclimate to changes in the neighborhood.

After Dunkin’ Donuts and other eateries were built on Mast Road, people started going elsewhere to buy pastry, Daniel Cote said, and in 1975, the pastry shop became a coffee shop and diner. The Cotes bought the property in 1985, and expanded the dining room from the adjoining section of what was once Richard’s Pharmacy.

After Daniel was diagnosed with stage-four cancer in April, the Cotes put the business and the Pinard Street property on the market for $365,000. They said their chances of selling the business are slim, mainly because of Plan Pinardville.

“We want to retire, and it’s killing our chances,” said Gwen Cote. “It’s a big, big headache for us, and now is a very bad time for us. There’s not one person in Pinardville that’s for that plan.”

Daniel Cote said the town is also proposing a 28-by-50-foot building on a 50-by-100-foot lot on Laurier Street that will be located between the Cotes’ home and a neighbor’s property.

“They want to move the motorcycle shop there. We don’t want a big building in between our properties,” Gwen Cote said. “They’ll wash off oils on that land.”

The proposed Smart Code is also troublesome for the Cotes.

“They’re changing zoning just for Pinardville and not Goffstown, and that’s not fair,” said Gwen Cote. “They want to pass zoning without anyone noticing.”

The Cotes have addressed their concerns at Plan Pinardville Ad Hoc Committee meetings and in an Aug. 8 letter to town Planning Director Brian Rose and the committee. The letter was also sent to Sens. Kelly Ayotte and Jeanne Shaheen, state Sen. Lou D’Allesandro, state Rep. John Burt and U.S. Reps. Carol Shea-Porter and Ann McLean Kuster.

“We ... have been a taxpaying part of our community for 46 years and are appalled at the thoughtlessness and callous way we are being treated by this planning process,” the Cotes said in their letter. “Not only is this plan destroying our business in the future, we are already being hurt before it is even approved.”

Rose and members of the ad hoc committee have said maps and drawings in the proposed plan are for illustration purposes only, and were created showing a possible development pattern.

“There is no requirement on any homeowner, landowner or business,” Rose has said at committee meetings. “There is no taking of people’s property with this plan. This plan will not require them to do anything they don’t want to do.”

According to the draft plan, “If any of these ideas are to be implemented, a cooperative effort will be required on the part of the town officials, the affected property owners and stakeholders, and citizens of Goffstown to make it happen. This plan does not require anyone to move forward with any specific plan or development affecting their private property.”Rose could not be reached for comment on the Cotes’ letter.

The Plan Pinardville Ad Hoc Committee will discuss the Smart Code — the Character-Based Zoning Ordinance and the Character-Based Development Ordinance — today at 7 p.m. at Goffstown Town Hall, Room 106.

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