Last week, through the efforts of a strong-minded group of residents led by Carol Chione, two citizens petitions passed that will reverse building standards in the bylaws pertaining to Business East in Northborough.
With the approval of warrant articles 48 and 49 at Town Meeting, multifamily development and horizontal mixed-use are no longer allowed by special permit in the Business East zoning district, which includes 81 parcels.
"I am very pleased with the outcome," said Chione in her reaction to the vote, on Northborough Patch. "Pleased that numerous citizens took their time to vote, in hopes, to make a change. They were successful at it. Although I was the person to present this articles, it was put together by several citizens. I took it upon myself to be the voice. It was hard to hear some of the negative comments at town meeting about the citizen petitions, calling this due to NIMBY and referencing a white picket fence."
Sparked by opposition to developer Tim Shay's proposal for 130 Main St., Chione and other neighbors affected by the building have been attending Zoning Board of Appeals meetings and poring over documents to combat the bylaw for months.
Some at Town Meeting pointed out that the bylaws were in fact approved by residents in 2009, and were bylaws that were the result of hours of research and effort put in by town boards and committees. To them, Chione's efforts were a case of NIMBY and counteractive.
To the neighbors affected by the bylaws, they maintain that they were either unaware of the warrant articles of 2009, or simply hadn't realized the full extent to which the laws would affect their neighborhoods.
Once articles are approved at Town Meeting, they go into effect the following day, according to Town Planner Kathy Joubert. The process also involves sending the articles to the attorney general for review, with the town receiving approval or disapproval from the office within 90 days.
Article 50, which would have changed yard setbacks from the existing 20 feet to 25 feet, did not pass. Also Article 51, which sought to change open space from 20 percent to 30 percent, also did not.
Click on the video to watch the reaction to the passing of article 48.