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The future of downtown? Council to review proposed zoning changes

MAIN STREET JOURNAL – Mixed-use developments, redesigned buildings, and a parking permit program are among the major proposed changes reflected in a Downtown Village zoning proposal that is now before the City Council. The aim is to reduce development deterrents and increase development incentives in Marlborough’s central district.

Officials look to revitalize downtown Marlborough through proposed rezoning and other major changes

The zoning proposal reflects months of work by Marlborough Economic Development Corporation (MEDC), in collaboration with the Metropolitan Area Planning Council (MAPC). For much of the spring, MEDC and MAPC facilitated a series of working group meetings, bringing together city officials, business leaders, and local residents to openly discuss and review possible changes to downtown Marlborough.

An open house was held to offer the public a chance to view the end product of those discussions. About eighty city officials, residents, and business owners stopped in at the Masonic Hall to learn about zoning recommendations that could serve as the long-term vision for the area’s future development and design. The event offered attendees a self-guided tour of the major downtown rezoning elements, including uses, parking, dimensions, design criteria, and overall conceptual development.

MEDC and MAPC staff used presentations and conceptual renderings of the future design of downtown Marlborough to showcase the details of the proposed changes.

“We wanted to give people the opportunity to see what we’ve been working on all these months,” said MEDC Executive Director Tim Cummings. “But it is important for everyone to remember that nothing is written in stone yet. The purpose of the open house was to show the people of Marlborough what we have done so far.”

Following the open house, MEDC put the finishing touches on a detailed plan for change downtown. The proposal was officially submitted to the City Council earlier this month and will now be reviewed in committee.

“Everyone has been very involved and invested in the process from the start,” said Marlborough City Councilor and Urban Affairs Committee Chair Joe Delano, who participated in the regular meetings held during the spring. “We have consulted a great number of people – experts, developers, officials, business owners, residents – and the result is, I think, a very thorough and well-thought-out set of proposed changes. Ultimately, we hope that these changes will spur downtown development and attract more new businesses to the area, which would, in turn, create a vibrant downtown for the city’s residents and help companies gain and retain talented employees.”

Specific changes that are proposed include allowance for taller buildings and mixed residential/commercial buildings, and a relaxing of standard parking restrictions. During the spring open house, MEDC provided a couple of downtown maps that noted possible new developments that could result after the zoning is changed.

One map showed potential residential floor added on top of existing single floor commercial buildings. Another map showed a possible five story development on Granger Boulevard opposite the entrance to Ward Park that could be a hotel or a mixed residential/retail building. Also suggested was a possible altering of Granger Boulevard, taking a lane or two of traffic away to allow for more on-street parking.

To view the available drawings and renderings, use the links below.
downtown rendering
downtown east
downtown west

This article originally appeared here.