Shrewsbury Planning Board discusses zoning articles slated for town meeting

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Screenshot courtesy ShrewsburyMa.gov
The existing Shrewsbury zoning map may undergo minor changes following a series of Town Meeting votes, this year.

By Melanie Petrucci, Senior Community Reporter

SHREWSBURY – Voters will weigh in on a trio of zoning bylaw changes at town meeting later this year. 

Town Planner Bernard Cahill reviewed the relevant warrant articles while speaking with the Planning Board April 1. The Planning Board subsequently opened and continued a public hearing to its May 6 meeting.

Warrant article proposes changes to Town Center Zoning District

The first article seeks to amend the map of the new Town Center Zoning District where a “limited business district” used to be. Town meeting adopted the new district last year. 

“What we did not do, which was an administrative oversight on our part, was that we didn’t indicate what happens to those parts of the limited business that were not in the new Town Center District,” Cahill explained.

The article will reclassify small sections along the border of the district that were limited business and revert them back to adjacent zoning districts – Residential B1 or B2, depending on location.

Cahill said that the property owners affected have been notified. There have not been any comments to date.

Bylaw on home additions could change

The second of the three articles seeks to amend a part of the town zoning bylaw on “continuance of existing uses” by adding “other than a single or two-family home” to the language of the bylaw.

Currently, if one wishes to increase a non-conforming structure by more than 50 percent they would need a special permit and a variance. However, Cahill has been advised by Town Counsel that according to current case law, the variance is no longer required by the courts in Massachusetts.

Warrant article seeks clarification for residents, developers

The final article amends seek to clarify a separate set of text for developers and residents. 

Cahill remarked that the town proposes to change the text of VII.C – Accessory Uses (sheds, detached garages and swimming pools, etc.) to a table format.

He said that residents and developers found the current language confusing. The proposed change is much clearer, he said.

Planning Board responds to zoning change presentation

The Board convened a public hearing to discuss this presentation, but there were no public comments. The Board’s comments were few but agreeable.

Steven Boulay, chair, inquired if there might be other opportunities to use table charts in other bylaws.

Cahill responded “yes,” and said that it is a trend he is seeing in other communities. 

Town Meeting is currently scheduled for Saturday, May 22 at Oak Middle School.