By Beth David, Editor
Fairhaven Town Planner and Economic Development Director Paul Foley is looking for town residents and members of town boards and committees to join a working group to figure out the best way to implement a 40R bylaw in town. The new zoning designation would be an overlay district that would allow for a wider variety of mixed uses.
Mr. Foley told the Select Board at its meeting on 8/1/22 that he is looking at a couple of different areas in town to be part of the overlay district, most notably the shopping plazas. If the overlay district is put in place, all current uses would still be allowed, but residential units would also be allowed in the commercial districts. It would create a higher density with apartments on top of commercial spaces, and better landscaped streets.
The idea, he said is to create more housing and economic opportunities. The plazas would be a little neighborhood by themselves, close to shopping and transportation, with broadband access and all utilities.
Consultant Peter Flinker told the board that communities across the state are adopting 40R overlay districts. His firm will provide visual representations of the districts so people can see more accurately what the changes would produce.
The bylaw would create boundaries for the district and would include design standards. The law was created to increase housing an encourage affordable housing options.
Mr. Flinker said experience has shown that it is important to get the public involved in the process. He said 40R allows for a “pretty wide range of densities and housing.”
Business owners and residents at large are encouraged to participate. Mr. Flinker said if people are represented and understand the facts, then the process goes more smoothly.
Mr. Foley said he is looking for 20-25 people to spend a couple of hours four or five times in the next few months to look at the options and help create the bylaw, identify likely areas/neighborhoods to be included, etc. He hopes to have it on the next annual Town Meeting warrant.
Mr. Flinker and Mr. Foley said the district will help prepare the town for the future. The plazas, in particular, have worked the way they have worked for decades, but may not continue to be the best use of the space going forward.
“The commercial districts you have were the answer 20-30 years ago,” said Mr. Flinker. “So the question is what do you want in the next 20-30 years and how to make that happen.”
The Select Board appointed Stasia Powers and Leon Correy to be the board’s representatives in the group. Mr. Foley will reach out to other town boards to get representation from them. He will also be providing regular updates in Planning Board meetings.
To express interest in joining the group, use the form for joining committees on the town’s website: https://www.fairhaven-ma.gov/select-board/webforms/board-and-committee-volunteer-application or email a letter of interest to Selectboard@Fairhaven-MA.gov, or mail to Select Board, 40 Center Street, Fairhaven, MA 02719.
Click here to download the entire 8/4/22 issue: 08-04-22 QuahogRelay
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