Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Live reporting - Downtown zoning proposal

Creation of New Downtown Commercial Zoning District – Bryan Taberner
assisted by Nick Alferi (Conservation Agent) and Beth Dahlstrom (Planner)

The proposal document can be found here

Minor changes to the actual set of four bylaws from the first time here a couple of weeks ago
Changes based upon feedback from all parties

Attempting to make it easier to do business in downtown, that is to make it a 'by right' permitting process
this would reduce the uncertainty around a proposal due to the current 'special permit process'

Photo shown of downtown Franklin, taken from the Post Office corner and looking towards the Triangle area

McGann - question on definition of medical, professional use
Taberner - very general, some one licensed by the Commonwealth, the changes they are proposing would be split into three categories; medial/dental, professional, and 'other'.

They will look to define that and add that to the bylaw.

Proposing to reduce the front setback from 20 ft to 5 ft
add a side setback of 5 ft
this would allow for pedestrian navigation or green space

'by right' would allow a quicker permitting process

shown another picture of Main St looking from the triangle island towards the Post Office

two slides shown depicting a two story downtown and the shadows cast vs a five story build out and much more shadows (going up the buildings across the street)

Currently, there are no parking requirements for the C1 downtown
Under the proposal, there are minimal parking requirements

  • Residential - 1.5 spaces per housing unit
  • Non-residential - 3.5 parking spaces per 1,000 sq ft of gross floor area

Also proposing a "Downtown Parking Trust Fund"
for those developments that don't put in parking, they could contribute to the fund
the accumulated funds would be used to improve and increase the number of Downtown public parking spaces

Nutting to summarize, eliminate what happened with Marini over the number of stories and parking spaces that took years to resolve. The rules are wishy-washy, the developers like to know what they are getting into. This is our attempt to get people to come in and say, "let's try this'

Kelly - Have you done a cost analysis on the 3 vs 4 story building for a developer
Taberner - no we have not, each lot size varies, so it would be hard to calculate. With mixed use development, your primary uses need to be revenue generators. With a downtown area, residential area would be a good choice. The T station is close by. It makes sense. We want to maintain the character of the downtown we have,

Pfeffer - I don't like this at all. Part of the viability is the mixed use, what doctor would come in downtown and go on the second floor. The whole downtown is going to be dug up with the traffic changes coming. I hope they can all stay, now they are all renters. If they leave, I hope we would be able to replace them with someone. If Simon's were to come in downtown, they would have to put up 600,000 to resolve their parking issue before they put a shovel in the ground. And the money would sit in a fund. I don't like this.

Taberner - is there a need to make any changes to the parking regulations?
Whether the amount of money is right or wrong, that is a council decision. The concept is something we should consider.

Whalen - this reminds me of the MCAS debate. I think this is a laudable goal. The goal of making it easy for a developer to understand what the rules are. Could we put together a committee with business owners to help work this into something.

McGann - this is first reading?
Nutting - this is just for discussion

McGann - does this trigger with a 30% change to the building?
Nutting - no, the renovations would have to come up to building code that is one thing. The bylaws would not be applicable.

Powderly - ??
Taberner - if a restaurant would go away and be replaced by a retail operation, they are both allowed so this would not change it.

Jones - Is this a major pressing issue?
Nutting - this is like the other action that the council has taken, better to take it and make the changes before the economy turns around. Is it pressing no, is it the right thing to do? Yes.

Taberner - with the downtown being redone, in a few years, some folks will look at the downtown and say, that is a place I want to be. If you don't like the parking fund, we need to address parking in some way.  If you want mixed use allowed by right, then we should scrap this. If you do, then we need to address some of these issues.

Mason - I agree that we need some rules here.

Nutting - we can come back with some modificatins

Stephen Pisini - I participated in the earlier meeting and since then we have been talking with other property owners, the property owners feel the C1 works. The real glue that held the downtown together was the services. The banks, insurance agencies, dance lessons, pictures frames, rather than limit and exclude uses, keep the mix. On either side of the downtown, you can see chains. Downtown is the home of the local business owners.

Listing of owners who signed the letter (to be added later)

Whalen - there are two broad constituents that we are trying to work, the existing owners and the possible developers

Pisini - the downtown area grew primarily sprung up from the train, they pre-date the automobile. If one property owner did rebuild, then the others would be isolated. Going forward, an existing owner would have to acquire other properties to do something.

Whalen - I think if you collaborate with Brian and others, I think we can get to a happy middle.

Rainier - we can only comment on the drafts that we have received. It does say that a change to use would affect the parking requirements. I don't understand the requirement to prevent doctor and other offices from being in the front retail space. I think the parking schedule is over-reaching and unrealistic. I did a study and the fees would be six figures and those fees would be a deterrent.

(three minute recess)

Franklin, MA

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