By Melanie Petrucci, Senior Community Reporter
Northborough – The Planning Board held a public hearing March 6 giving residents an opportunity to weigh in on amendments to zoning bylaws pertaining to recreational marijuana and two-family dwellings which will be put forth at the April Annual Town Meeting.
The two-family dwellings amendments consumed most of the hearing. Specifically, an article to amend Part 7 of the Northborough Town Code, Northborough Zoning Bylaw.
Developer Tony Abu, accompanied by his attorney, James E. Tashjian of Tashjian Simsarian LLP, in Worcester, addressed concerns over the 150-foot minimum lot frontage in the Residential-Commercial (RC) District. He asked the Planning Board to consider a reduction in the frontage requirement.
“We are suggesting that you retain the 150 feet to the both of those [minimum lot frontage and minimum lot width] and give the opportunity to the Planning Board on a special permit basis, reducing the frontage requirement based on neighborhood conditions and what’s most appropriate,” Tashjian said.
Abu alluded that the Planning Board did not trust the Zoning Board to oversee decision-making regarding appropriateness.
“You might as well put the kibosh on duplexes,” he said.
The Planning Board, with the exception of member George Pember, took issue with this statement. Pember was in favor of Abu’s request as was Tom Reardon, an architect and member of the Design Review Committee, who was present at the hearing.
“I don’t agree with you George, I don’t think we are trying to kill duplexes in Northborough, I think we trying to find some balance…” stated board member Michelle Gillespie.
After further discussion, Town Planner Kathy Joubert offered to take a closer look at the residential lots within the RC district to assess future duplex sites.
Other bylaw amendments would include: adding that “approval of a two-family dwelling shall be subject to design review by the Design Review Committee in accordance with two-family design guidelines adopted by the Planning Board and on file with the Town Clerk”; and design review, by inserting language relevant to special permit application for two-family dwelling.
Relevant to marijuana establishments, the first of two articles would amend Section 7-05-010 of the Northborough Town Code, Northborough Zoning Bylaw, prohibiting uses of marijuana including definitions, establishments and accessories.
An alternative article, amending Part 7, would regulate marijuana’s use with language pertaining to establishments, uses, locations and any other regulations. Marijuana establishments would be limited to the highway business district.
Joubert explained that due to recent developments in Worcester regarding private social clubs allowing social consumption where patrons are allowed to bring in their own product (no sales), Northborough will seek to “close this loophole” by adding language in the general and zoning bylaws, under marijuana establishments, that specifically address this possibility.
“I think what came out of this opt out bylaw is a nice reflection of what the people in town have expressed,” said resident Kerrie Martinek.
The public hearing was continued to the next Planning Board meeting April 3.