Developers pitch zoning bylaw changes to Northborough Planning Board

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Developers are seeking changes to Northborough’s zoning bylaws to allow them to build on a parcel of land off Ridge Road.

NORTHBOROUGH – Developers who want to build homes at 75 Ridge Road recently laid out proposed changes to Northborough’s zoning bylaws to help make their proposed project possible.  

The site spans roughly four acres and developer Damon Amato said there’s a large cleanup that needs to occur on the property.

Developers outline plan

The developers raised the idea of a zoning overlay district back in July. At the time, they discussed various plans for the site, including creating a public dock. 

In talking with town staff, Amato said he and his team learned that Northborough has a bylaw for open space-residential design (OSRD). They had utilized such bylaws previously in other communities, Amato said.

According to Northborough’s bylaw, the purpose of OSRD is to protect open space while also encouraging “creative” and “environmentally sensitive design” as a preferred form of residential design that consumes less open space while respecting the existing topography of a property. 

While OSRD has been a part of Northborough’s bylaws, Amato said no one has used it. 

“I guess we would be the first,” Amato said. “It’s something we know a lot about, and we think would fit great on this site.” 

This site on Ridge Road, however, is in Northborough’s Residential C zoning district. The OSRD bylaw only applies to the Residential A and B districts. So, developers want the Residential C zoning district to be added to the overlay. 

The developers presented potential additions to the bylaw, Nov. 16, to include Residential C. 

“What we’re trying to accomplish with that is not only for this site, but for the rest of the town [and] give the Planning Board a lot more options to be able to approve sites that otherwise wouldn’t have the ability to be done,” Amato said. 

Under these changes, the developer would be able to fit as many as eight homes on their site. They’ve reduced that number to five, however. 

With five homes, all future residents would have “decent” yard space, Amato said. 

Town engineer weighs in

Town Engineer Fred Litchfield said town staff weighed in on modifying the developers’ equation in their proposed bylaw changes. 

The minimum lot area in Residential C is 20,000 square feet compared to 80,000 in Residential A, which Litchfield said was a pretty significant reduction in size. 

He said the original OSRD bylaw was intended to get a maximum amount of open space, particularly in larger lots in the northern part of Northborough.

“As they both have stated, it’s never been utilized,” Litchfield said, though. “So, clearly something needs to be done to entice people to take action with that, but still not overdevelop.”

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