Town Crier

TEWKSBURY — The Zon­ing Bylaw Committee met last week at town hall to discuss the use table portion of the proposed update to the zoning bylaw. 

The committee is conducting a series of meetings to review each section of the proposed bylaw, and to re­view and discuss citizen, committee member, and staff comments. The committee is tasked with updating the town’s zoning by­laws, a process which in­cludes removing redundant language, incorporating changes to state and federal laws, making the document more navigable, and incorporating approximately 130 amendments that have been adopted over time into the existing by law.

The committee intends to respond to every comment and email that was submitted by the public with an explanation of why or why not a particular concern or suggestion would work in the by law. The committee is working to keep dialogue with the community open and transparent, and is accepting feedback on an ongoing basis. The committee’s meeting schedule is available at https://www.tewksbury-ma.gov/zoning-bylaw-committee and comments may be sent to zoning@tewksbury-ma.gov.  

The committee discussed Section 5 of the draft by law which defines uses for different types of properties in different parts of the community, known as districts. A Use Table in section 5.4.3 describes in detail the types of uses permitted.

A significant change to the Use Table is removal of MFDs, or multifamily de­velopments, and other large scale uses such as nursing homes, or other high volume traffic business or residential uses in the Office Research Zone. The committee did discuss that with the removal of MFDs from the zone, another type of use would need to permitted.

Suggestions during the meeting included upscale public storage and recreation. The committee in­tends to take action on this item at its Dec. 2 meeting.

Additional discussion fo­cused on “in lieu of fees” which are being removed as an option for future large multifamily developments. In lieu of fees would permit a developer to pay into an affordable housing fund rather than build affordable units in the de­velopment. Discussion by the committee about this decision centered around affordable units being in­distinguishable in the context of a housing complex, but much more apparent in the context of a subdivision.

In other words, requiring a more modest home to be built in a cul de-sac of larger homes would create an incongruence, for which al­lowing a developer to opt out and instead pay a fee would be preferable.

The topic of billboards was also raised. The committee voted to leave the existing bylaw intact, such that any billboard must be 1,000 feet from a residence or residential district. This measure was introduced via an amendment by former planning board member Nancy Reed at May 2019 Town Meeting.

The town currently has one billboard that was ap­proved for I-495 northbound. The billboard applicant re­ceived a special permit from the Board of Select­men af­ter it received a variance for the 1,000 feet requirement from the Zon­ing Board of Appeals. [Au­thor’s note: this billboard is planned for 1900 Andover St., behind Long­horn Steak House.]

The committee is adding another public hearing to their schedule, which will be on Wednesday, Dec. 8, 2021. Comments are en­couraged at any time and residents are welcomed to attend any of the committee meetings in person. At this juncture, the meetings are not televised.

The next regular meeting of the committee will be at town hall on Thursday, Dec. 2, 2021 at 6 p.m.

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