Northborough Planning Board deliberates bylaw amendments for upcoming public hearing


By Liz Nolan, Contributing Writer


Northborough – The Northborough Planning Board and Zoning Board of Appeals (ZBA) met jointly on Jan. 19. They deliberated on proposed bylaws and amendments that may go forward and be presented during an upcoming public hearing before 2021 Annual Town Meeting. The date of that public hearing has not yet been determined.

ZBA Chair Fran Bakstran said the discussion is for an understanding of what the intent of the amendments are and if the Boards agree.


Groundwater special permit bylaw discussion

Planning Board Chair Kerri Martinek explained that currently there are two different approaches to a groundwater special permit. There should be one way to go through that process to lessen confusion for the applicant and overall disconnect.

“The heart of this is trying to make sure that there is one cohesive way that is not confusing to anybody, it’s not frustrating to the applicant to try to figure out, and it is just a little more clear for everybody.” said Martinek.

The process should be the same with no additional work but provides clarification that special permits tie into the core criteria.


Bylaw for brewery zoning

A new zoning bylaw to allow reuse of space for a brewery, distillery or winery with a tasting room received positive feedback from both Boards. This was seen as a better way of using empty warehouses in the industrial zone, and bringing in new businesses.


Other bylaw discussions

The Boards considered a prohibited use list for what type of businesses that most do not want to see located in the town. Businesses that pose a potential hazard to human health and safety or to the environment would be on this list.

Planning Board member Amy Poretsky said specific prohibited uses won’t have to fall under interpretation. It would save time and money for Boards, town and residents.

The need for a clearer definition of a contractor’s yard was not disputed. The language to remove the sale of merchandise as part of that definition was.

“We want to make sure that this doesn’t have unintended consequences… to other businesses that we would like to keep in town,” said Planning Board member Michelle Gillespie.

The bylaw language for non-conforming would reflect how to direct the review process to ZBA when a business expands or changes.

“The real goal is to clean up Business West,” said Martinek. “We keep getting these chances but we do not have something in place to give ZBA the opportunity to interject.”




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