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Marlborough housing guidelines move forward

Marlborough housing guidelines move forward

METRO WEST DAILY NEWS – In the coming weeks, the City Council will vote on new multifamily housing recommendations that guide where developments should be built and a point-based system that determines the best proposals for the city

MARLBOROUGH – Multifamily housing guidelines before the City Council will assist officials in determining which type of developments are most suitable for neighborhoods across the city.

The Urban Affairs Committee on Tuesday signed off on the housing recommendations that city officials and the Metropolitan Area Planning Council drafted together. In the coming weeks, the full City Council will vote on the guidelines, which include which type of units should be built in specific areas and a point-based system officials can use to rate proposals.

The city was broken into a handful of sections – including commercial corridors, established neighborhoods and industrial parks. Townhouses, a cluster of small houses and the conversion of an existing building into housing are ideal for established neighborhoods like French Hill to ensure the character of those areas. A project like the renovation of the Cozy Café on Lincoln Street is an example.

Commercial corridors on the city’s east side could accommodate townhouses, small and large multiple-unit buildings, multi-unit buildings over parking and conversion of existing buildings.

Large and small multi-unit buildings, multiple unit structures with a courtyard, multiple unit facilities next to parking, townhouses and small houses would fit in the city’s commercial and industrial parks, located primarily in the southwest quadrant.

The point-based system will help city officials determine how a project fits into a neighborhood, how it benefits the city and the effect it will have on municipal services.

Other criteria include whether projects are consistent with the city’s vision, if they have an affordable component and if they incorporate renewable-energy elements.

“Developments that do not meet these criteria and guidelines are less likely to receive the necessary approvals for zoning changes and/or special permits for development from the City Council,” according to the regulations.

Joseph Delano, Urban Affairs Committee chairman, noted the guidelines will encourage quality developments in the city.

“This is really to help us,” he said.

Urban Affairs member Peter Juaire questioned why the guidelines do not specify how many units can be built in the city each year. Other communities have limits on how many units can be built each year, likely due to Chapter 40B – which requires at least 10 percent of a community’s housing stock be considered affordable, said Council President Ed Clancy.

The committee will likely study how many units should be allowed to be constructed each year in the near future, said Delano.

City councilors last spring approved a six-month moratorium on special permits for housing projects to allow officials to devise the guidelines to help deal with Marlborough’s rapid growth.

This article by Jeff Malachowski originally appeared here.

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