2 East Main mixed use project back at ZBA tonight

by beth on September 19, 2018

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Above: An application to allow mixed uses in a building proposed for the vacant corner lot downtown will be heard by the ZBA again tonight. (image cropped from submitted plans)

Sorry for making this last minute – but I’m reminding readers what an item on the Zoning Board of Appeal’s agenda this week means.

On Monday, my agenda highlights included the ZBA’s continued hearing on 2 East Main Street. I heard from people on both sides of the issue today. It made me realize I probably should have given it more attention – or at least pointed out that the address is the lot at the corner of Newton Street.

Last month, a mixed use 2½ story project at the site was pitched as a great way to help revitalize downtown by the developer and Economic Development Committee. Some area residents and a nearby business was less sure. Meanwhile there were questions raised as to whether the project was even within the ZBA’s domain. You can read all about that here.

The continued hearing is tonight. I’ve heard buzz that Town Counsel has submitted a written response to the board’s questions. (That’s not surprising, since the board hoped to have feedback for tonight’s hearing.)

I’m presuming the response addresses whether upstairs apartments can be considered within the district’s by-right zoning for hotels. But, thanks to the school holiday, I was out and about with my family earlier today. So, I didn’t get a chance to reach out to the department during Town House hours to see if I could get a copy.

That means that most of us will have to wait to hear his verdict until the 8:00 pm hearing tonight. You can see the agenda here. And the original application is here.

There is potential for the board to vote on the project tonight. If within the board’s domain, members may decide to approve the request and defer most details to the Planning Board which has authority for Major Site Plan review.

If it is rejected on legal grounds, it could prompt a Town Meeting Article. (Even if the developer isn’t interested in pursuing that route, the Economic Development Committee has been talking about the possibility of bringing a mixed use zoning proposal to voters.)

It is less likely the project would be found within the board’s domain but rejected as not good for the Town. Last month, commenting members showed support for the project in concept.

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