Church planned for Rt. 101 nearing a formal review

Planning Board sees revised parking plan at proposed site

PETERBOROUGH — Divine Mercy Parish’s plan to build a new church and function hall on seven acres off Route 101 moved forward Monday, after Planning Board members reviewed a revised parking plan that moved the majority of the parking spaces to the side of the building.

Planning Board Chair Ivy Vann said church officials at the informal design review session addressed the major concerns the board had raised during an initial review in October.

“They moved the parking to the side,” Vann said on Tuesday. “They’ve gone from more than 80 spaces in front and now have about 20, and none of them are directly in front of the entrance. They’ve also increased the amount of green space in the lot, to conform to the zoning ordinance. The sense of the board is that they are on the right track.”

Officials of the Roman Catholic parish will now be able to move ahead with making final architectural drawings and other information necessary for a formal site plan review with the Planning Board, which Vann said they plan to do in the next few months.

“Before we started spending significant money, we wanted to get a sense of what the [Planning] Board would require,” said the Rev. Gerald Belanger, pastor of Divine Mercy, on Wednesday. “They seemed to receive the plan very favorably.”

Divine Mercy Parish was formed seven years ago when St. Peter Parish of Peterborough, St. Patrick Parish of Bennington and the summer parish of St. Denis in Harrisville were merged. The parish serves about 830 families and has outgrown its sanctuary on Vine Street in Peterborough, according to Belanger.

A capital campaign early this year raised about $1.4 million in pledges and donations, which enabled the parish to purchase seven acres of a 14-acre lot near Lobacki Drive owned by Jack Belletete of Jaffrey, who at one time had planned to build condominiums on the site. Church officials intend to build a 312-seat church and a 152-seat function hall on the land. The church itself would be a clapboard-sided structure with a brick faced entryway and a tall steeple. Only the steeple would be visible from Route 101, according to Belanger.

In September, the Zoning Board of Adjustment approved a special exception to allow a church to be built in the general residence district and granted a variance to allow the access road to the buildings to run through a section of the lot that’s in the shoreland conservation district.

Belletete still owns seven acres next to the land that he sold to the church. Vann said Planning Board members asked the church to look at its plans to ensure that adequate screening is provided between the two properties, since housing units could eventually be built on the neighboring land.

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