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Residents in Marlborough excited by plans for downtown

METRO WEST DAILY NEWS – A few dozen residents and public officials turned out Thursday night to get a glimpse of what development in Marlborough might look like under a set of newly proposed zoning rules aimed at revitalizing downtown.

The open-house style forum, hosted by the Marlborough Economic Development Corporation at the Masonic Hall on Newtown Street, drew downtown residents and business owners for a look at the plans and a final chance to comment on the proposal before it’s submitted to the City Council for further review.

The proposed zoning package would create a new “Marlborough Village” zoning district downtown, encouraging mixed-use projects and a more urban style of development that planners say will mesh well with what’s already in the area.

Current zoning for Main Street in downtown Marlborough is the same as it is along the less dense stretches of Rte. 20 on the east and west side of the city and carries prohibitive rules – like setback requirements meant for more suburban settings – that would rule out the types of development city officials want to see downtown.

The zoning would allow new uses downtown, allow for taller buildings and relax parking requirements, allowing developers to make payments in lieu of creating parking and use parking that’s available in the municipal garages already downtown.

The proposal has been in the works for months, with an initial public forum on the topic in April and a series of meetings since held by a Downtown Study Committee. Cynthia Wall and Mark Racicot, consultants from the Metropolitan Area Planning Council, sat in on the forum and committee meetings and helped to craft the actual wording of the zoning proposal.

Several residents at the open house said they are excited about the possibility of a rejuvenated downtown.

“I think it’s wonderful,” said Curtis Avenue resident Karen Callahan, who attended several meetings of the study committee as an audience member. “It energizes me to think that somebody is excited enough about downtown to create a vision.”

Damon Michaels, a Chase Road resident who also attended several of the meetings as an audience member, said he was also excited by the process and the final proposal.

“I came away from those meetings energized,” he said. “There was a lot of good, quality, civil discussion.”

Michaels said he also believes the zoning proposal, which sets design guidelines for development, will help ensure that any new projects match or complement what’s already downtown.

“It really opens up the opportunity for new development downtown,” he said. “New development will be modern but it will fit in.”

Robert Jordan, who runs his business, Jordan Property Solutions, out of an office on Main Street, said that he wouldn’t mind seeing a little more hustle and bustle out of his window.

This article originally appeared here.