Shrewsbury officially pushes MBTA zoning vote to October

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Shrewsbury officially pushes MBTA zoning vote to October
Shrewsbury’s Town Hall stands within the town’s municipal campus off Maple Street. (Photo/Laura Hayes)

SHREWSBURY – Shrewsbury will officially wait until October to consider MBTA zoning.

On May 21, the second night of Shrewsbury’s Town Meeting, the town’s 240 elected representatives rejected Article 44, which would have established the town’s MBTA zoning district, otherwise known as the “Transit Oriented Development Overlay District.”

The move was expected. On May 2, the Select Board unanimously moved to push the MBTA zoning vote to October’s Special Town Meeting. The extra five months will allow the town to streamline communication, further review the MBTA zoning proposal, and perform an economic-feasibility analysis that may increase the amount of affordable units permitted in any potential project within MBTA zoning.

“I firmly believe that compliance is the right decision for Shrewsbury, and I am willing to wait until the fall Special Town Meeting for a vote. By waiting, we can wait and see that all interested parties… have the best information available… Trust in local government is critical to having well-informed citizens and Town Meeting members, and time is needed to provide every Town Meeting member with the information they need to be confident when they talk to their neighbors and, ultimately, when they vote this fall,” then-Select Board Chair Beth Casavant said on May 2.

The town government is proposing placing MBTA zoning on a 173-acre plot of land in the southeast corner of town. The area includes Olde Shrewsbury Village, located at 1000 Boston Turnpike near Northborough and the intersection of Route 20 and Route 9. The Christmas Tree Shops operated in the plaza for over 35 years, officially closing in August 2023 after the company filed for bankruptcy. Town officials and residents have identified the site as “in need of refurbishment.”

The town’s proposed MBTA zoning also includes other sites along the Route 20 corridor, including Shrewsbury Commons, the Sajda Drive development off Walnut Street, and the site of the former Rainbow Motel.

Pushing the vote to October does not mean the town is non-compliant with the state. Shrewsbury has until Dec. 31 to comply with state law and approve an MBTA zoning plan.

The Community Advocate is providing real-time updates about Shrewsbury’s annual Town Meeting at Oak Middle School. For more information, and to see updates, follow us on Facebook or visit www.communityadvocate.com.

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