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Proposed Amendments to the Area, Height, and Placement provisions of Chapter 55
– City Zoning Ordinances

As I understand the amendments being proposed by the Planning Commission and its Staff, the intention is to make a more efficient use of land and to improve pedestrian access to buildings.

No matter where located in the city, all parcels of land with the same zoning are being treated the same. However, they are not the same, varying with location. I find there would be negative consequences for established residential areas. Each location of a given zoning should be analyzed separately.

EXAMPLES OF RESIDENTIAL IMPACT, suggested for community discussion.

RE – Research Zoning: The context of RE zoning along Ellsworth Road is very different from along Plymouth, where it abuts neighborhoods. Proposed rewording: Replace 20’ and 30’ with 50’ from any residentially zoned land. Limit height to that of abutting residential structures. Permit 4 stories with a 100’ setback from residential zoning.

ORL – Office, Research, Industrial Zoning: Same as for Research when abutting residential.

M1 and M2 – Light and Heavy Industrial: M zoning on North Main Street along the river is away from neighborhoods, but most M zones are located along the AARR tracks through Downtown, abutting residential on Hill, Hoover, Madison Streets and heavily impacting the neighborhood east of South Industrial Highway. Change front setback to average of residential street frontage, 50’ setback on any side abutting residential, height limited to that of abutting residential, except up to 45’ in height with 100’ setback from residential.
Commercial Zoning (C1, etc.): Each parcel in each category is located differently in relation to residential. Some abut on the side, some on the rear, some on three sides, some away from residential. Each parcel location must be analyzed separately before writing standards.

Residential Zoning (R1A, etc.): The new proposed R1E zoning is not the only proposed change to R zones.
• For R2 zones, the new maximum front setback should not be applied to existing neighborhoods where the front setbacks are to be averaged, instead.
• For R3 and R4 zones, proposed changes in setbacks and height should be analyzed location by location.
• Page 22 of report of 6/03/08 (footnote 3): “for new freestanding buildings” add: on vacant lots. Otherwise, it could be interpreted to mean that 2 freestanding buildings are permitted on one lot, in violation of R2 definitions.

Ethel Potts, August 10, 2009