Hudson Town Meeting rejects zoning bylaw update


Hudson Town Meeting rejects zoning bylaw update
Zoning Board of Appeals member Jason Mauro speaks against the article during Town Meeting. (Photos/Laura Hayes)

HUDSON – Hudson Town Meeting voters rejected an article that would have amended and recodified Hudson’s zoning bylaws, Nov. 15. 

Voters also said “no” to a separate article that would have added $100 fines for zoning bylaw violations. 

Speaking during Town Meeting, Zoning Board of Appeals member Jason Mauro said the town had shared information on its website stating there weren’t any substantive changes as part of the zoning update. 

“Clearly, that’s not the case,” Mauro said. “I’ve also read through this document, and I found literally over 100 changes being made to our bylaws. Some are minor. Some aren’t.”

He said more work needed to be done before a vote. 

Bylaw explained

Town Meeting voted to fund the update of the town’s zoning bylaws in 2015, Director of Planning and Community Development Kristina Johnson noted.  

The process then took several years, she said, getting pulled from last year’s Annual Town Meeting after it was originally slated to be voted on.  

“This went through a robust, iterative process with a lot of eyes on these pages, looking out for the best interest of the town,” Johnson said.

She outlined some of the proposed changes, which ranged from formatting alterations to a consolidation of business districts, to other bylaw updates.

Hudson Town Meeting rejects zoning bylaw update
Director of Planning and Community Development Kristina Johnson describes changes to the zoning bylaw. (Photos/Laura Hayes)

One of those updates would have prohibited overnight parking of more than one commercial vehicle over 26,000 gross vehicle weight in residential districts. 

If a resident wanted to park more vehicles, the bylaw would have provided a process through which that individual could apply for a special permit from the Zoning Board of Appeals. 

“We recognize that a lot of folks in this town — they work in the trades, they own a business in the trades, they may have a vehicle that they use for that trade, and they want to bring it home,” Johnson said.

That update wouldn’t have affected recreational vehicles like campers and boats. 

Another update would have banned storage containers and trailers remaining on a premise for more than six months without the review and approval of the building commissioner. 

Johnson noted that this would have applied to the kinds of trailers attached to tractor trailers, not boat or camper trailers. 

Resident concerns 

One Town Meeting voter who drives a tow truck that serves vehicles over that 26,000 gross weight limit said the proposed update regulating commercial vehicles didn’t take into consideration workers who may be on call or run businesses out of their homes.

Another voter said the language in the bylaw didn’t include language to grandfather in people who already had storage containers on their properties.

Resident Dave Rykbost said he read the bylaw several times before he asked questions. He raised concerns about the ways the bylaw addressed containers, fences and hedges, lighting on signs, landscaping and a number of other topics.  

“All of these are not questions, in my mind, to be debated right now, but I wanted to make a point that I think that as great of a job as they have done so far, there’s still more work to be done,” Rykbost said. “I think this should be tabled and reworked — many of these points and others. … These pertain to me. I think they need to be cleaned up a little bit before we vote them into law, not after the fact.”

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