NORTHBOROUGH – Northborough residents will have an opportunity to weigh in on a number of proposed zoning articles headed to Town Meeting during a Planning Board public hearing on April 5 at 6 p.m.
The public hearing will be held virtually.
The proposed articles include items regarding breweries and regulating internally-lit signs. Another article would enact a moratorium on distribution and transportation property uses while another article would codify revisions and additions to the definitions of distribution and transportation uses in town zoning bylaws.
Planning Board Chair Kerri Martinek presented the articles to the Board of Selectmen during the board’s March 14 meeting and answered members’ questions.
Officials discuss public comment on articles
Speaking during the Board of Selectmen meeting and a Planning Board meeting the following day, Selectman Scott Rogers voiced concerns about opportunities for the public to weigh in on these articles and noted that any changes following the April 5 public hearing wouldn’t be included in the warrant.
The selectmen closed the warrant on March 14 and executed it on March 28.
In past years, the formal motions made on some individual articles during Town Meeting could contain details that are different from what’s posted in the warrant, Rogers said.
“It looks like we’re going to have that situation again — that if there are changes that come from the public hearing on [April] 5 after the warrant is posted,” he continued. “…I guess that’s unfortunate, but it’s the situation that we’re in due to the schedule.”
It may be challenging to explain these changes during Town Meeting, Rogers said.
Martinek said that the Planning Board has been accepting public comment throughout its process to date, adding that residents can email the board with feedback. She added that the board could make an amendment on the floor or read a written change.
“I don’t anticipate a tremendous amount of change,” Martinek said.
Any significant changes would be from town counsel, she added.
Where Martinek had discussed public comment on March 14, later, during the Planning Board’s March 15 meeting, Rogers asked that it be made clear when the board wants these public comments.
“I’ve been holding off until the public hearing,” he said. “That hearing is going to come after the warrant is closed. So, I feel I’ve missed the opportunity to make any substantial comments or adjustments to the proposed bylaws this year.”
He said he’s been waiting for final copies of the articles that he could review, which were part of the draft warrant.
During the Planning Board meeting, Martinek noted that Rogers has attended the last few meetings.
“We’ve opened up comments a couple different times, and I hope you felt like you were welcome to comment whenever you wanted to,” Martinek said.
Rogers said he’s been tracking the articles.
“It’s the rest of the public that don’t know that they have an opportunity to make comments until the public hearing,” Rogers said.
Martinek suggested regrouping on whether to put public comment on the Planning Board’s agenda, which she said they have been advised not to do by the Board of Selectmen.
More information on how to watch or participate in the public hearing, visit https://www.town.northborough.ma.us/s i tes/g/f i l e s/v y h l i f3 57 1/ f/a g e n – das/04.05.2022_planning_board_public_hearing_notice_for_zoning_articles.pdf.
Town Meeting is scheduled for April 25.