What your neighbors had to say about mixed-use development

A shot of downtown taken from the Southborough Master Plan
A shot of downtown from the Southborough Master Plan

(This is the second 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. Up today is mixed-use development.)

Picture this: You step off the commuter rail at the Southborough station after a day of work in Boston, cross the street to a quaint retail complex to pick up something for dinner at the green grocer and collect your shirts from the dry cleaner, and then make your way up to your condo on the second floor of the same building.

That’s an example of mixed-use development, and it’s something that’s not currently allowed in Southborough.

Mixed use means a single building that serves two purposes, like a combination of office and retail space, or retail and residential. Southborough’s Master Plan suggests the town consider allowing mixed-use development along Route 9 and in the business villages like downtown, Fayville, and Cordaville.

Residents weighed the pros and cons of mixed-use development at the zoning review meeting last week.

“I’d like to see mixed-use development in the business village districts,” one resident said, pointing out that it might allow for less expensive housing for the elderly or for young, single people.

“The whole principal of a village is to have 24-hour use. There’s a wonderful sense of community,” said another.

But other residents worried the type of mixed-use development we would get wouldn’t look anything like the picture I painted above.

“Given that just about every lot in the business villages are in use and are non-conforming, we won’t get nice new developments. We’ll get retrofits by people trying to get $700 out of a second floor,” said one resident.

Yet another worried about where parking would go in the business villages if mixed-use development was allowed.

What do you think? Would mixed-use development be good or bad for Southborough? What might the business villages — downtown, Fayville, Cordaville —  look like if mixed-uses were allowed?

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Matthew Brownell
15 years ago

“Mixed Use” development is a abomination and visual cancer. It is Socialist euphemism used by greedy developers to skirt strict zoning laws, and by revenue-hungry government officials – most of whom do not LIVE in the town they are undermining.

In every town in which I’ve lived, “Mixed Use” zoning has brought sprawl, visual blight, and hordes of rental populations.

Mixed Use zoning? Only if one feels that Southborough property owners are the dumbest stumps in the forest.

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