CPDC Discusses Possible Zoning Amendments

Reading, MA — On Monday the Community Planning and Development Commission (CPDC) engaged in a discussion regarding the direction it might take with possible future zoning bylaw amendments. Community Development Director Julie Mercier provided a list of concerns that may need to be addressed in the coming year including the floodplain overlay district, the MBTA communities guidelines, updates to the table of uses, and revised setbacks for residential corner lots.

Zoning Amendments for Consideration

Mercier reminded CPDC that the Federal Emergency Management Agency is expected to provide new floodplain-related maps in 2023 and that guidance from the state on the MBTA communities requirements is still forthcoming. She advised that until that information is clear, discussions on those issues would likely be premature. 

Mercier continued, suggesting possible changes to the table of uses f including donation boxes, breweries, retail firearms sales, and short-term rentals, such as the type offered by Airbnb. She also suggested that zoning for lab-based life sciences industries should be reviewed. Reading is currently rated as a “silver” community for life sciences developments. 

CPDC member John Weston agreed that some of these concerns should be addressed, but his belief is that work on some of the issues, specifically regulations regarding Airbnbs and retail firearms sales, need to be spearheaded by the Select Board as they can better assess community priorities for these issues. 

“We are not the board to drive these [discussions],” Weston commented. 

It was pointed out that a 2020 Town Meeting instructional motion asked the Select Board to look at regulating short-term rentals in town. Weston also shared that the development of the industrial district, often referred to as the “eastern gateway,” the use of the town-owned land on Symonds Way, and building on the town’s land on Oakland Road should all be discussed in context with one another. Weston also suggested that planning work on the proposed public space at the Auburn Street Water Tower site should begin soon, in order to avoid delays once the new water tower is completed.

CPDC voted 5-0 to approve a Certificate of Appropriateness for a new sign for the Quannapowitt Players building at 55 Hopkins Street. It voted 5-0 to endorse an “approval not required” subdivision plan for 71 Franklin Street which will subdivide a 45,000 square-foot lot into two lots, retaining the historic structure currently on the site.

CPDC voted 5-0 to endorse a lot release request for a three-lot subdivision at 103 Sanborn Lane and also voted 5-0 to endorse a tri-party agreement for the same subdivision. CPDC continued a scheduled public hearing for the plan review for the proposed 40R development at 25 Haven Street to August 8 at 8:30pm at the request of the applicant.

After review and approval of several sets of minutes, CPDC adjourned at 10:20 pm.

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