A group of citizens hope that a vote will pass at Town Meeting to change the town's bylaws on development issues. Though the Planning Board recommended that they not be approved at this time, these four petitions will still be included for vote in Monday's Town Meeting.
The petitions, prompted by opposition to a development proposed for 130 Main St. by Tim Shay, focus on zoning bylaws that were implemented by the town for the business district in 2009.
Regardless of the outcome at Town Meeting, Town Planner Kathy Joubert reiterates that the development for 130 Main St. has already been approved.
"The decision has been signed," said Joubert, "so these petitions for zoning amendments, if approved at town meeting, will not have any effect on that particular development."
Carol Chione of 15 Brigham St., who has been vehemently opposed and highly vocal about the Shay development, proposed two of the positions, which seek to prohibit multifamily developments and horizontal mixed use developments in the Business East zoning district.
"Currently, the zoning bylaw allows for multifamily (maximum of 12 units per site) by special permit and also allows by special permit horizontal mixed use development," said Joubert, "which is defined as two or more buildings on one lot that provide business uses in building(s) facing the street and residential or office uses above the ground floor or in separate building(s) behind or to the side. Her petitions seek to prohibit these uses."
Two additional petitions were proposed by resident Karen Ares of 31 Leland Drive. The petitions seek to change the side and rear setbacks, as well as the open space requirements, in the Business East District.
Presently, the side setback for a building is 20 feet. The petition seeks to change that to 25 feet. The rear setback is 25 feet and the proposal of the petition is for 30 feet. Ares' other petition concerns the open space requirement; as it stands, 20 percent open space is required as a minimum, and the petition looks to increase that to 30 percent.
Chione said that while she and other residents studied the bylaws during the hearings for 130 Main St., it prompted a lot of questions, and the decision to file the petitions.
"We do not want this type of new construction to continue," said Chione. "Although the planning board is not supporting these amendments, the citizens have the final say when voting at the town meeting. Several citizens have expressed concern and discourse over such new construction as the Boost building [the unit nearing completion in front of Rocky's Ace Hardware at 372 Main St.]. There are over 19 acres in the Business East District that can easily turn into these types of projects. The planning board does not seem to understand how much this is affecting the town as a whole."
Joubert, in a recent interview with Northborough Patch, discussed the bylaws, particularly pertaining to the Business East District. In 2009, the town passed a vote at town meeting by two-third majority to provide for mixed use development, adopting a section of the new zoning bylaw that allows for mixed use.
"If someone is following the law and the regulations," she said, "we don't have the authority to say no. The rules are put in place and if you follow it, you can build. If you are asking for all sorts of exceptions and the neighborhood comes against the project and it's valid that is where the ZBA has the room to say it doesn't conform. In the case of 130 Main St., [Shay] is not asking for any variances. Something similar happened when Kevin Giblin came in to build and no one was in favor of it. He needed a special permit, and the board said they sympathized and didn't think it would happen in that neighborhood, but the bylaw is the bylaw."
Chione said that an appeal was filed with the ZBA regarding 130 Main St. on Wednesday.
"I, and several other parties, are disgusted with the ZBA," she said. "Members show up late, sleep, and do not want to hear what you have to say. They pretend to listen and pass along projects as if you are not really there. The ZBA is there to make a decision on what is best for the community as a whole; not what's best for one man. This experience has been eye-opening."