No subscription needed for Obituaries and Public Notices      

NEWS: Planning Board Reviews Proposed Changes to Business Districts with Local Owners [with video]

Groton Planning Board met with local business owners to discuss proposed changes to business districts, the Schedule of Use Regulations and Schedule of Intensity Regulations. The meeting was part of the Board's working session in preparation for a series of zoning amendments that they plan to present to voters at a future Town Meeting.

Planning Board Chairman John Giger led the presentation, explaining that some of the existing "commercial and industrial zoning districts (R-B, B-1 and M-1) have very little land and vague use regulations that do not align with Groton's economic development goals."

He explained that the Board is proposing to divide the B-1 district into distinctive business districts; to provide for mixed-use in height and width to allow for mix and scale; to reduce the potential for land use conflicts in the B-1 district by discouraging single-family home development and limiting agricultural use; and eliminating the minimum front yard setback of fifty feet and considering a maximum front yard setback to encourage compact pedestrian oriented development."

Three new districts are being proposed to change what is now the B-1 District: Neighborhood Business (NB), Village Center Business (VCB) and General Business (GB). In addition Manufacturing (M-1) will be renamed Industrial and Conservancy and Open Space Agricultural will be eliminated; Residential Agricultural (R-A), Residential-Business (R-B). Public Use (P) and Official Open Space (0) districts will remain the same.

Giger stressed that the use and intensity regulations would be related to conditions in each area and how they support economic goals of the town.

NB districts would allow small business centers to provide goods and services within or near residential areas; VCB districts would allow mixed uses retail, commercial, and residential including office space, that is 'walkable and contributes to the village's sense of place'; and GB districts that can provide for a range of retail uses and services and commercial activities in appropriate locations along arterial or primary roads.

These proposed zoning changes also address concerns of some members of the Planning Board regarding the existing Concept Plan Bylaw under which a development plan for a business district must be approved by a 2/3 vote of Town Meeting. Based on what has occurred in other towns, Planner Russ Burke said he believes that this could pose a risk for a legal challenge for the town by developers. In fact, according to Burke, this has happened in other communities where the developer has won. "I've been told that we will not prevail in court," he said.

He positioned the new business regulations as providing the "same scrutiny and review, meeting the legal requirement "so we don't have to go to Town Meeting to get a 2/3 vote." He positioned the approval by the Planning and Concept Plan by Town Meeting as 'double jeopardy' for a developer.

Burke pointed to the Groton Inn concept Plan that was approved by voters that was very preliminary with no detailed engineering and 'put us in a position to judge without data." He added that the "plan evolved in a better fashion than was originally presented."

However, Chairman Giger stressed that the proposed zoning changes would serve as a backup plan if indeed there was a legal challenge to the Concept Plan adding that it was not the intention to eliminate the Concept Plan from voter approval.

Land use Director Michelle Collette identified 17 areas in town that already have some businesses and explained their new designation. She gave detailed examples: the GB district would include Town Line Road, property owned Hollingsworth & Vose; Deluxe, Mill Run Plaza; Boston Road near Lovers Lane and Skyfield Drive, and Four Corners; a VCB district would include West Groton Village, Main Street and Champney Street, Main Street at Elm and Pleasant, Main Street at Hollis and Court Street, and Main Street at Lowell Road; and lastly a NB district would include RiverCourt Residences in West Groton, Stephens at 382 West Main; AL Prime on Boston Road; and the Pine & Swallow and Boston Road Liquor Store along Route 119.

Groton Herald

Mailing Address
P.O. Box 610, Groton, Massachusetts 01450

145 Main Street, Groton, Massachusetts 014510
[Prescott Community Center]

Telephone: 978-448-6061

Comment Here