Zoning amendments may be sent back to City Council


Zoning amendments may be sent back to City Council
Marlborough City Hall stands on Main Street. Mayor Arthur Vigeant recently vetoed zoning amendments. (Photo/Maureen Sullivan)

MARLBOROUGH – It looks as though the proposed zoning amendments on mixed-use and affordable housing will be sent back to the City Council for further refinements.

During the council’s Urban Affairs Committee on April 19, members discussed the veto on these amendments made by Mayor Arthur Vigeant.

In his veto message to the council on March 24, Vigeant said, “The proposed language is placing added restrictions and will not only prohibit downtown development but all housing developments within the city.”

Vigeant added that if there’s an increase in the percentage of affordable units for larger projects, developers will increase the cost of the project and the rental prices for the market-rate units.

At the committee meeting, Vigeant said he was “concerned about handcuffing future councils” if the amendments were accepted.

Council President Michael Ossing had his own reasons why he supported the mayor’s veto. He agreed with Vigeant about developers raising the cost of the project should they have to accommodate more affordable units.

“Someone’s going to pay for this,” said Ossing.

He also pointed out that the City Council has no deadline when it comes to amending zoning regulations.

“If the veto is upheld, we start from scratch … that’s not a bad thing,” he said.

Several councilors, including committee Chair Kathleen Robey, said that they wouldn’t have to start from scratch since “we pretty much have what we want.”

Vigeant and the committee also discussed the city’s report on compliance with the MBTA’s Communities Zoning Law. That report is scheduled to come out sometime in early May, and would map out where multifamily housing units could be placed within the city.

“This law has its own limits on how many affordable units can be required,” said Vigeant.

After discussions, the committee decided to report out the proposal without recommendation. During its Monday, April 24, meeting, the City Council upheld the veto, 11-0, and sent the proposal back to Urban Affairs.

About the amendments

Amendments included a change to the minimum number of units required before developers need to set aside units for affordable housing. The committee agreed to amend the regulations from “20 or more units” to “eight or more units.”

Housing units of eight or more would be required to have 15% of total units sold or leased to families meeting specified guidelines. For any development with more than 18 units, 20% of total units must be sold or leased to families meeting guidelines.

Ossing suggested several changes to the amendment; they include a proposal to change the percentage of onsite affordable units from 15% to 12% and to eliminate a clause about having a certain number of affordable units for developments with more than 20 units.

Additional language would clarify that the units would be targeted for households earning less than 80% of the area median income as set by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) within the Standard Metropolitan Statistical Area that includes Marlborough, and that at least one-third of the units sold or leased would be to households earning less than 50% of the median income set by HUD.

There is also an amendment to drop the “buyout” option for developers.


Developer buyout option could be removed from Marlborough zoning regulations

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