More come out for and against proposed zoning changes

As public hearings on a proposed overhaul of the town’s zoning bylaw continue, more town boards, business leaders, and residents are speaking out both for and against the proposed changes.

The town’s Conservation Commission has joined the Open Space Preservation Commission in expressing its concern that new regulations sway too heavily in favor of developers.

“While agreeing that there is opportunity to streamline some of the redundant processes and permitting requirements, we do not agree that environmental protections and regulations presently in place should be relaxed so that numerous projects that now require oversight, review and permitting will now be exempted under the proposed Bylaw,” the Commission wrote in a letter to the Planning Board earlier this month.

The Conservation Commission also criticized the process by which the set of bylaw changes was developed and reviewed, saying several of the recommendations agreed to by the commission in 2009 were not included or were altered in the final draft.

On the flip side, some Southborough business owners have come out in support of the proposed changes, saying the new bylaw is balanced and fair.

“We’re not changing the character of the town, we’re just making it easier to work within it,” William Pezzoni, a longtime resident and former chairman of the MetroWest Chamber of Commerce told the Metrowest Daily News last week. “It’s really disheartening that the voice of a few, who have obviously had time to raise their issues before … are raising the same issues (again).”

The zoning changes are expected to come before voters at a Special Town Meeting this summer.

The Planning Board will continue its review of the zoning changes at their meeting tonight, and is expected to discuss the recent feedback from the Conservation Commission, as well as concerns expressed by former Zoning Board of Appeals Chairman Sam Stivers. The Southborough Economic Development Team, a privately-run group of business and nonprofit leaders, is also scheduled to respond to the comments.

Tonight’s meeting starts at 7:00 pm in the Town House Hearing Room (on the second floor). It is open to the public.

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