WINDHAM — The look of North Windham, dominated by big-box stores and concrete strip malls, appears to be headed more toward a traditional New England village.

The Town Council on Tuesday night voted 4-2 to develop an ordinance that would regulate building design in the commercial zones.

The ordinance would be based on a vision articulated by the town’s Planning Board, which said it wants to see downtown buildings with pitched roofs, landscaped parking lots, and brick walls, clapboard siding or shingles.

A couple of councilors have said they feared the regulations would be too restrictive.

“I think it’s going to be an added cost and a deterrent for development,” said Council Chairman Scott Hayman. He voted against creating the ordinance, along with Councilor Peter Anania.

Councilor John MacKinnon agreed that it will add cost for developers, but said, in general, the town’s businesses will benefit.

“Windham has suffered in the past because it hasn’t had standards,” he said.

The design standards are meant to make Windham’s business district more attractive, to improve traffic flow in the area and to make it safer for people walking and biking. The changes will be aimed at making the area more desirable for shopping, which should attract more business.

The town currently has a 93-page book of design guidelines, adopted in 2005. Some developers consider them; others don’t.

About a year ago, the Town Council asked the Planning Board to come up with a recommendation for design regulations that could be enforced. That recommendation is what councilors considered Tuesday.

Included in the recommendation are prohibiting concrete block, metallic siding and fluorescent colors. The recommendation also calls for buildings to be close to the roadway with parking lots behind them. The lots should be interconnected and should have internal walkways. Lights should be shielded and pointed downward.

The Planning Board will develop an ordinance and the Town Council will have to approve it before it goes into effect.


Staff Writer Leslie Bridgers can be contacted at 791-6364 or at: [email protected]