(This is the first in a series of posts about last week’s open meeting on zoning review. A group of residents and committee members who assembled at the Town House were asked five questions related to zoning. I’ll cover one question each day this week. First up is development along Route 9.)
“I don’t want our Route 9 to look like Westborough or Framingham.” That’s what one Southborough resident had to say at last week’s open meeting about zoning review.
The comment came in response to this question:
How can we provide for economic growth along Route 9 without diminishing the quality of life for residents?
Development along Route 9 is often proposed as a way to balance out the town’s reliance on residential properties for tax revenue. But what implications would more development along Route 9 have on the town?
“When you have more development, you have more cars. How are you going to get from here to there?” asked one resident who cited a lack of east-west and north-south thoroughfares in town.
Another questioned whether Route 9 should be further developed at all. “Where are we in revenue needs? Is it absolutely necessary?”
If the town wants to encourage development along Route 9, it’s going to have to make some changes to the zoning bylaw. Current zoning along the Route 9 corridor is narrow (as little as 250-feet deep at some points) and has a low 45-foot height limit.
Changing the width and height bylaws could impact abutting residential neighborhoods, and topology along some points of Route 9 could make widening the corridor difficult.
It’s probably a safe assumption that most people in Southborough don’t want a 100,000-square-foot Wal-Mart or a 5-story apartment complex on our portion of Route 9, and that’s certainly not what’s being proposed. But when we say we don’t want our Route 9 to look like Framingham or Westborough, what exactly do we mean? What do we want our Route 9 to look like?