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Talks continue on downtown Marlborough rezoning

METRO WEST DAILY NEWS – A downtown rezoning proposal got a step closer to going into effect Tuesday night, as the Urban Affairs Committee continued tweaking a proposed ordinance before its send the measure back to the City Council for approval.

The committee ultimately tabled the measure and will take it up again next week, once planning consultants from the Metropolitan Area Planning Council have incorporated edits gleaned from comments at a City Council public hearing last week and Tuesday’s Urban Affairs meeting.

One of the concept development plans for Marlborough downtown showcased at the April Open House.

The rezoning measure, meant to spur redevelopment downtown, is a product of months of meetings, kicked off by a public forum in April hosted by the Marlborough Economic Development Corporation.

The proposed zoning allows for several new uses downtown and eases requirements on things like parking and building dimensions for developers, who would in turn have to comply with more stringent design standards for downtown.

On Tuesday, the Urban Affairs Committee touched on several topics brought up at last week’s public hearing, including the lack of residential density caps in the zoning.

Urban Affairs Committee Chairman Joseph Delano said the zoning instead puts a limit on the number of units that can be built in a year and opts to let the market drive density downtown. By putting a limit on the number of units built in a year, the city can lessen any construction disruption for downtown businesses.

Another issue raised at last week’s public hearing revolved around open space and a provision in the proposed zoning that would allow a developer to consider rooftop gardens or even indoor recreation spaces or indoor pools as open space. Delano said that again the intent of the zoning is to aim not to restrict developers and let the market drive development.

The Urban Affairs Committee also got its first look Tuesday night at a draft set of design guidelines for developers. Unlike the design standards codified in the proposed zoning, developers won’t be required to comply with everything in the design guidelines. Mark Racicot and Cynthia Wall, planners at the MAPC who helped to draft the zoning, said the guidelines are meant more as a reference material for developers to help them understand the type of projects city officials are looking for.

“It’s a guidance document,” Racicot said. “Not every development has to follow every guideline.”

This article by Kendal Hatch originally appeared here.