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Agency to explore downtown Marlborough zoning

METRO WEST DAILY NEWS – City officials on Tuesday night tasked the Marlborough Economic Development Corporation with coming up with new zoning regulations for downtown, a move that officials hope could pump new life into the district.

City Councilor Joseph Delano, chairman of the Urban Affairs Committee, said that the agency will spend the next few months coming up ways to revitalize downtown. The announcement came after a panel of planners presented the committee with the results of a study they conducted of downtown.

The report, put together by a technical assistance panel from the Urban Land Institute, makes a series of recommendations, including creating a special zoning district, instituting expedited permitting, considering incentives to make redevelopment projects more feasible.

Most importantly, however, the city needs to develop its own vision for downtown and institute changes that bring that vision closer to reality, panel members said.

Architect Scott Payette, a co-chairman of the panel, said that downtown has definite potential, a fact quickly realized by members of the panel making their visit to the city in the fall.

“There are a number of us on the panel who had never been to Marlborough,” Payette said. “It’s a beautiful place.”

A key to revitalization, according to the report, is building a stronger link between Main Street and Granger Boulevard. By putting parking on Granger Boulevard, along with some crosswalks, bike lanes, benches and other streetscape improvements, the city could create a larger walkable district that would link the two streets, according to the report.

The city should also consider a unified branding campaign and signs that could point visitors toward free parking and other potential downtown attractions, said panel co-chairman Dick Lampman.

On the zoning front, attorney Andrew Sutton said that the city could consider reworking its zoning regulations or creating a new district that would allow new uses in addition to the ones already in place.

Tim Cummings, executive director of the Marlborough Economic Development Corporation, said a committee will meet over the next few months to discuss recommendations for downtown. He said the committee will first issue recommendations for zoning, followed by recommendations for infrastructure improvements and a list of potential projects.

Mary Scott, co-owner of the Main Street Café and coordinator of the Marlborough Downtown Village group, said she was excited to hear the panel’s recommendations. She said she was especially intrigued by the idea of making Granger Boulevard a more integral part of downtown.

“That really fascinated me,” she said. “That could really drive some foot traffic to Main Street.”

This story originally appeared here.