FAQ — Temporary Building Moratorium

This FAQ will be periodically updated to answer questions about the temporary (15± months) building moratorium on multi-family dwelling units (3 or more) that we will be asking the citizens of Millbury to enact at a special town meeting.

Q: Why do we need a temporary building moratorium on multi-family dwelling units (3 or more)?

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. That would make an exercise such as this much easier.

Brian Falk, Merrick O’Connell (Millbury Town Counsel)

A: While the Millbury Planning Board rendered a proper and thoughtful decision by denying the initial proposed Rice Pond Village project with 46-condominiums on February 14, 2022, the Millbury Planning Board struggled with the Town of Millbury’s Zoning Bylaws and Rules and Regulations for Subdivisions, and according to Town Counsel these regulations lack clarity, a statement that we wholeheartedly agree. The Town of Millbury has no specific zoning bylaws for multi-family developments. Therefore, this temporary building moratorium could provide the necessary time to enact thoughtful regulations.

Q: How long will the temporary building moratorium on multi-family dwelling units (3 or more) last?

A: The duration of the temporary building moratorium is 15± months, to provide sufficient time for citizens, town staff, and the Millbury Planning Board 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.

Q: Who will be impacted by this temporary building moratorium on multi-family dwelling units (3 or more)?

A: Anyone looking to build new multi-family dwelling units with three (3) or more units on one or more parcels of land. This temporary building moratorium will have no impact on single-family homes, duplexes, two-families, retail, commercial, industrial, etc.

Q: What about if I own a three-family that burns down?

A: Then you could request for a variance through the Millbury Board of Appeals process, and while we cannot speak for the Millbury Board of Appeals, we would imagine that they could grant a waiver to replace an existing grandfathered residential structure in the same location, size, design, etc., provided that you are not building something entirely different. However, the decision is the Millbury Board of Appeals.

Q: Is this temporary building moratorium on multi-family dwelling units (3 or more) specific to Rice Road?

A: No. This would apply throughout the town of Millbury. We have given this a lot of thought and are thinking bigger picture to protect everyone’s interests and are providing a mechanism for responsible development for all stakeholders moving forward.

Q: Will this temporary building moratorium on multi-family dwelling units (3 or more) stop Chapter 40B projects?

A: That is an unknown.

Q: How many votes will it take to pass this temporary building moratorium on multi-family dwelling units (3 or more)?

A: It takes 200 valid registered voters to petition to call a special town meeting. There is a required quorum of 100 registered voters to be in attendance at the special town meeting and a two-thirds majority would have to vote in favor of the temporary building moratorium on multi-family dwelling units (3 or more). If passed by the two-thirds majority, then the Massachusetts Attorney General would review the town warrant article within 60-days after the special town meeting. If there are no issues, then notice will be posted for 30-days and the effective date will be that of the special town meeting.

Q: What is your ultimate goal with this temporary building moratorium on multi-family dwelling units (3 or more)?

A: Our ultimate goal is “responsible development” in the Town of Millbury. By that we mean, developments that are in harmony with the surrounding land uses, that are properly sited on streets that can handle the traffic volume, that enhance public safety, that are an asset to neighborhoods and the community as a whole, and do not require waivers of the town’s regulations to fit a square peg in a round hole approach to planning and land use. Residents of Millbury have a stake in the planning process and this moratorium would provide an opportunity to have voice and seat at the table should people avail themselves of it.

Q: Are you concerned about the town’s lack of low income housing and how the state will look at the efforts of this group as not taking into account that need?

A: While the town has not reached the 10% Subsidized Housing Index (SHI) mandate, which is a continually moving target, we feel that affordability is an important factor, however, projects should not comprise public safety or environmental sensitivity. This temporary building moratorium on multi-family dwelling units is not specifically targeted to restrict affordable housing in Millbury. We do not object to affordable housing when responsibly developed.