Saturday, May 15, 2021

Recap: Economic Development SubComm Meeting - 05/12/21 - downtown parking zoning, housing production plan

Quick Recap:
  • The parking downtown seems to be a never ending topic and as such ran through a number of nuances during this session. Conversation could be better if folks stuck to the topic and didn't get sidetracked with other personal issues or mind reading assumptions. At the end, the proposal to reduce from 1.5 to .5 spaces per lot was moved to Town Council for discussion, referral to Planning Board, public hearing process, and then back to Council for their hearings and ultimate vote.
  • The housing production plan was released for public comment. Public hearings will be scheduled for discussion and comment collection. A revision is anticipated based upon the feedback and likely sometime later this year, the Planning Board and Town Council will need to vote to approve before submitting to the State. This is a component of the Master Plan to be updated next year 
As with most meetings in this pandemic period, I took my notes via Twitter during the meeting reporting in real-time via the virtual session
The Twitter hashtag can be found online  #edc0512
The agenda doc for this meeting can be found

  • Real time reporting underway for the Economic Development subcommittee meeting #edc0512
  • Agenda doc and connection info #edc0512
  • First of series of guidance on the American Rescue Plan for restaurants etc. Town will share the info via their normal channels #edc0512 link to SBA application in doc
  • Social media audience is part of spreading the word. Word of mouth helps. Maybe some effort but look into it, money to be used within guidelines. #edc0512
  • Moving on to parking bylaw discussion for C1 and downtown commercial. #edc0512 reduces the parking requirements in these two districts. Proposed to go to .5 vehicles parking per lot. Can't really go to zero per legal enforcements. Would have taken planning board out of mix ->
  • ".5 is something we can live with" Q why not address non-residential also? Can be addressed. This is a proposal for discussion. Direct cost, opportunity cost, of parking passed on to renters business or residents; indirect costs, encourages impervious surfaces, etc. #edc0512
  • Can there be more opportunity for shared spaces? Already possible to get an agreement from a nearby location to bring to planning board. Some spaces need to be required downtown. #edc0512
  • Parking has been going back and forth, when Marino came downtown, we dropped parking to 1.5 and I wouldn't go lower for mixed used per Padula chair of Planning Board. Q Was an outside study done on parking downtown? No, Planning dept did so several years ago #edc0512
  • Will be contracting with MAPC in near future to look at parking and zoning all together. #edc0512 meters removed to encourage parking, easy payment process was evaluated but not cost effective. Town sold only 4 parking passes this month for commuters, that will change
  • Will be looking around 1 mile of the downtown station per new state guidelines looking to enhance the transportation and retail, residential opportunities. #edc0512 "nothing has ever been denied due to parking" building or parking lot is impervious
  • Planning Board looks at the mix of business, we are forgetting (in this discussion) about handicap access (and can't do so). Example of possible brewery at the old oil place on Alpine; where would folks park if zero is allowed. #edc0512
  • #edc0512 Q on why the 1.5 per units in the trans oriented development. If we could rebuild from scratch, we could do something, we are trying to live with a situation that started with horses/carriages. $20k/space for a parking garage. Where is the snow going to go?
  • #edc0512 I live downtown and have 4 vehicles, two in the driveway and two on the street. Should wait for the survey/study before making the decision. No need to rush this, esp now in pandemic when things are different.
  • With 1.5 per mixed use and up to 5 residents in a 2 bedroom unit, they could have 3 cars (or more) and have no place to park, with nothing left for retail. #edc0512 C1 is along the 140 corridor, downtown commercial is a separate zone. Need to make an equal balance
  • C1 used to be in the center of town and was changed to be downtown commercial. #edc0512 need to get residential development downtown. As for the proposal, ok; as for other things we can/could consider doing; req parking in back of building?
  • Takes away ability for a developer to address his site and opportunity. Let's talk about it during the Master Plan process. We have used this for years and amended over time. We could redo it all at once but it will be time consuming #edc0512
  • Can count parking on street vs lot, count differently? It is like that now. If we create a town around cars, then we have to live and make do with cars. Let's try and plan around not a car. #edc0512 Town Council can't micromanage what goes where
  • Conversation could be better if folks stuck to the topic and didn't get sidetracked with other 'stove pipe' issues. #edc0512 motion to forward to council, seconded, passes 4-0 via roll call Next up housing production plan draft
  • #edc0512 memo and doc, the two go together
  • Public comment extended and open to June 30 on the housing plan #edc0512 Housing Trust will hold public hearing as part of series of public sessions, comments, questions and inputs sought. Other boards and Committees will need to be involved
  • Updates go to town council and planning board, both need to approve before it goes to state for their sign off and acceptance. #edc0512 send input to planning dept via email or letter to be part of the process.
  • Community preservation Committee also could/should review as they touch housing. #edc0512 consider Jun 16 at 7 PM as next EDC meeting for housing with public hearing input Motion to adjourn, second, passes 4-0

Audio of meeting to be available in a couple of days 


Town administrator Jamie Hellen making a point during EDC meeting
Town Administrator Jamie Hellen making a point during EDC meeting

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