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The Planning Board voted to include the following zoning bylaw amendments for inclusion in the 2019 ATM Warrant (Full Text HERE):
Article 23: Upper Spring Street Overlay District – Overview
Why is this being proposed: This proposal responds to requests of several residents in the proposed district. In 2017, these residents requested that the Planning Board not include this area within the scope of larger zoning changes, which were ultimately approved by the 2017 Annual Town Meeting relative to imposing constraints on the development of two- and multi-family homes in the RU zoning district. These residents had argued that this proposed district was uniquely well-suited for multifamily development for three reasons: its lot sizes, its existing multifamily developments (such as Olde Village Square, Woodland Condominiums, and Maple Brook Condominiums), and its defined boundaries of Rt. 27 and the railroad tracks. At the time, the Planning Board generally agreed with these arguments but felt it would cause confusion in the midst of the 2017 ATM process. As a compromise, the Planning Board and the interested residents agreed to revisit the matter after the 2017 Annual Town Meeting. No residents in the proposed district have objected to this proposal.
Added Benefit for Medfield: With such a district allowing by-right multifamily development, Medfield could be eligible for a Housing Choice designation. The designation means Medfield could receive Housing Choice Capital Grants for any capital project–not only related to housing–as well as priority access to other grant programs. Such funding sources are critical to many forthcoming town projects.
What is being proposed: Within the proposed district, this proposal reverts to pre-2017 provisions relating to lot areas and permitting process. Pre-2017 zoning required 24,000 sf for the first 3 units plus 6,000 sf for each additional unit (~6 units per acre) and site plan review for approval. Post-2017 zoning requires 30,000 sf for the first 3 units plus 8,000 sf for each additional unit (~4 units per acre) and a special permit for approval. All other dimensional requirements remained the same.
To maintain the integrity of the site plan review process, the proposal includes extensive review criteria of the compatibility, impact, and performance for only new multifamily development in this proposed district. There are no changes to regulations for single- and two-family dwellings.
How was the boundary identified: The boundary was identified based on the existing multi-family developments in the area and the potential for lot mergers in the northern portion of the district. The district could have been reduced or enlarged based on resident feedback during the public hearing process.
Impact on Medfield: This proposal balances the need for desirable new growth in appropriate locations along with the needs for better planning techniques and inclusionary zoning.
Upper Spring Street Overlay District - Additional Details
Potential for Lot Mergers: Lots in this proposed district could be sold for multifamily development at 6 units per acre rather than 4. With this proposal, some lots could be developed with multiple units on their own while some lots may be combined to create larger developments.
Allowable RU Density
Proposed USSOD Density
40,000 sf (approx. 1 acre)
60,000 sf (approx. 1.5 acres)
80,000 sf (approx. 2 acres)
200,000 sf (approx. 5 acres)
Role of Inclusionary Zoning: In 2017, the Annual Town Meeting adopted a special permit process to review multifamily development in this area. This proposal would keep that requirement for projects of 6 units or greater by amending the current Inclusionary Zoning section (300-16) to cover this district.
More about Housing Choice: To earn a Housing Choice designation through the governor’s new Housing Choice Initiative, towns must create new housing units (both market rate and affordable units) and, depending on the amount of housing created, adopt identified best practices to promote sustainable housing development. Communities are eligible for designation if they increased housing stock by at least 5% or 500 units in the past five years. Medfield produced 201 housing units between 2013-2017, or 4.76%. Therefore, for a Housing Choice designation, Medfield must meet 5 of 11 identified “best practices” in production and planning. Currently, Medfield meets only 4 of those practices. With this proposal, the town would become eligible for a Housing Choice designation by adopting its 5th best practice: “Have at least one zoning district that allows multifamily by right with capacity to add units and that allows for family housing (greater than 2 bedrooms).” Designated communities can apply for Housing Choice Capital Grants to fund any capital project—even those unrelated to housing. They can also receive priority access to other state grant programs, such as MassWorks, Complete Streets, MassDOT, and LAND and PARC grants. These programs are critical to future DPW projects (such as its Complete Streets policy and the reconstruction of Rt. 109 in the next decade) as well as to the Medfield State Hospital Master Plan, which targeted MassWorks as a grant program.
Article 24: ZBA Special Permit Criteria - Overview
Why is this being proposed: This proposal updates the special permit criteria used by the Zoning Board of Appeals in reviewing certain projects which require special permits (as defined by the Table of Use). The existing special permit criteria have remained unchanged since adoption in 1975 despite growing complexities in the types and scopes of project applications. Members of the ZBA were part of the 2017 ‘RU Working Group’ which refined the new special permit criteria loosely based on the existing criteria as well as criteria used in nearby towns.
What is being proposed: This amendment mirrors the new set of special permit criteria developed for the Planning Board when it received special permit granting authority for two-and multi-family dwellings in the RU district in 2017. The ZBA and Planning Board held a joint meeting in November 2018 and agreed that the proposal will be a better review tool going forward.
Impact in Medfield: This proposal would have limited impact on town operations.
Article 25: Table of Use Amendments - Overview
Why is this being proposed: This proposal fixes minor errors in the terminology and regulatory references used in the Table of Use.
What is being proposed: This amendment provides consistency in the terminology used within the Medfield Zoning Bylaw, which should have been updated in 2014 with the codification process.
Impact in Medfield: Best classified as minor “housekeeping,” this proposal would have limited impact on town operations.