An Explanation Of Millbury Town Warrant Article 27

Millbury’s Town Counsel said in an email “Each time I go through the Millbury Zoning Bylaws in detail, I find it lacking in clarity. In particular, it would be good for the Bylaws to have more detailed special permit and site plan criteria and required findings.”

With the uptick in multi-family developments in the Town of Millbury, like the recently approved Canal Street Apartments (59-units), Singletary Arms (not more than 180-units), Clearview Townhouses (144-units), Cobblestone Village Apartments (72-units), and Stratford Village (48-units) many residents are now aware that the town does not have any specific multi-family zoning bylaws, so the Millbury Planning Board has to try to cobble together decisions based upon current zoning bylaws and the subdivision rules and regulations, and the unfortunate result are numerous waivers to attempt to make a project “fit”.

Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.

Albert Einstein

That situation needs to change. Therefore, we, the registered voters of Millbury, need to enact specific special permit and site plan review regulations and specific findings, for Millbury to be successful. In our minds, “success”, could be defined as multi-family projects that are consistent, harmonious, safe, properly sized, and responsibly developed in full compliance with new zoning regulations and properly sited to be an asset to any neighborhood and the town in general. Therefore, the following town warrant article will be amended on the floor of Millbury’s Town Meeting on May 3, 2022, as follows:

To see if the Town will vote to amend the Zoning Bylaws of the Town of Millbury by inserting a new Section 53. Temporary Moratorium On Multi-Family Dwelling Units under Article 4. Special Regulations, or to take any action thereto.

Section 53. Temporary Moratorium on Multi-Family Dwelling Units

53.1. Purpose. In recent years, the preponderance, rate and volume of multi-family residential permitting and construction within the Town of Millbury have proceeded at levels that substantially vary from the community’s prior experience. These changes to local development patterns may potentially have an adverse or unanticipated effect on community character and existing neighborhoods. While the Town of Millbury Zoning Bylaws does not contain sections which specifically address the creation of multi-family dwellings, there is a community need to establish thoughtful criteria for consideration and approval of multi-family dwelling units within neighborhood contexts and within downtown Millbury. In order for the Town to undertake comprehensive planning to formulate and adopt such criteria under zoning, the Town intends to adopt a temporary moratorium on the consideration and approval of multi-family proposals under the Zoning Bylaws.

53.2. Definitions. For the purpose of this section, “Multi-Family Dwelling” shall be defined as “a building with three or more dwelling units or two or more buildings on the same lot with more than one residential dwelling unit in each building.”

53.3. Moratorium. Notwithstanding any other provision in the Zoning Bylaws to the contrary, no special permit approval for multi-family housing, may be issued until after June 2, 2023. The purpose of this temporary moratorium is to allow sufficient time to engage in a planning process to address the effects of such structures and uses in the Town and to enact bylaws in a manner consistent with sound land use planning goals and objectives.

This is not an unusual approach to temporarily press “pause” on multi-family developments while debating and putting forth new regulations to ensure the character and integrity of our town remains intact. Other municipalities have taken the same action. In fact, most of the body of the proposed amendment to Town Warrant Article 27 originated from another municipality.

The proponents of Town Warrant Article 27 have begun gathering zoning regulations to present to the Millbury Planning Board as potential templates for multi-family zoning regulations. This does not have to be a difficult process, what we face others have faced and, in some cases, addressed with modern zoning bylaws that we can simply copy, paste, edit, and present at an upcoming Town Meeting for consideration by the town’s people. Millbury, as a town, needs to engage in a public planning process to address the effects of such structures and uses in Millbury and to enact bylaws in an inclusive (meaning all stakeholders, including the general public not just town officials and employees, prior to public hearings) and employ a thoughtful approach to multi-family developments, as we could be faced with more of these large-scale multi-family developments, like the new “by right” MBTA zoning district regulations with a minimum of 750 additional dwelling units and the developer threatened, but not yet submitted ~225 Chapter 40B affordable apartments.

We are respectfully asking every Millbury voter to please help protect and preserve our neighborhood and the town by voting to pass Town Warrant Article 27 on May 3, 2022, at the Millbury Junior/Senior High School, beginning at 7:00 PM.