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Planners Review Downtown Apartment By-law Draft

Planning Board members recently reviewed an initial draft of a Zoning By-law change that would allow 16 apartments to be built on the top floors of eight downtown buildings. The draft was prepared as a follow-up to a February 15 meeting of numerous town officials to discuss how to deal with objections raised to the idea when it was last presented to Town Meeting Members at a the March 16, 2009 Special Town Meeting.

The proposal Town Planner Larry Dunkin presented at the board's March 1 meeting – written by Dunkin and Town Counsel Gerald Moody – contained restrictions on parking, trash disposal and exterior building appearance.

"We're going to get ourselves into trouble," board member Patrick Kennelly commented about the wording stating: "No flags, rugs, laundry or other such objects may be displayed or hung from windows or otherwise placed upon the exterior of buildings, other than permitted advertising for commercial space." How, he asked, could the town tell someone that they couldn't display an American flag?

Chairman Lena McCarthy said private condominium developments could place such restrictions. "But that's not zoning," she said. "Gerry [Moody] needs to be creative with his terminology," Kennelly added. Member Marble Mainini suggested the wording simply say "no outside display."

Kennelly also said the proposed language about trash disposal needed to specify that trash could not be left on Main St. for pick up. "It's not going to be happening out on the streets of Milford," he said. The draft wording stated: "Garbage, trash and/or rubbish removal for any unit approved under this section shall not be the responsibility of the town but shall be the responsibility of the applicant/building owner. An applicant shall demonstrate availability of garbage removal services available to applicants."

Board member Joseph Calagione voiced concern that building owners could apply for a special permit to have the apartments by showing agreements for parking and trash disposal, but questioned what would happen when those agreements expire. Dunkin replied that any special permit would be granted for only the length of those agreements. If a building owner had a one-year parking agreement, then the special permit should run for only one year, he said.

The proposed wording stated: "An applicant for a special permit under this section shall demonstrate binding legal availability through lease, easement, or other approval method, of two dedicated off-street parking spaces for each unit."

Dunkin noted the proposed language also would prohibit rooming houses and boarding houses – now allowed under the current zoning – from being permitted on any floor in the same building as apartments would be allowed. The proposal would allow two apartment units only on the "uppermost floor" of buildings with three or more stories. Town officials have said only eight buildings qualify, for a total of 16 apartments.

McCarthy said board members would review the proposed language again at their March 15 meeting.

Planners also discussed Zoning By-law changes that are needed to match current flood plain district zoning changes put into place by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). Dunkin noted one section of FEMA's proposed wording was confusing as to the roles of the Zoning Board of Appeals and the Planning Board and needed to be re-written.



Editor's Note: What do you think about downtown apartments? Voice your comments at: http://milford.localocracy.org/issues/144-should-town-meeting-members




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