Residents seem divided over the idea of rezoning land downtown to pave the way for the Town Yard to be moved and the area to be redeveloped.
A mixed reaction was displayed at a forum at the Public Safety Center last Thursday, Feb. 7, which came nearly a year after residents narrowly rejected a plan to build a new Town Yard on Campanelli Drive for $18.5 million. This year, officials are asking residents to rezone the current Town Yard space on Lewis Street to allow it to be used for other things.
The aim of the zoning is to “create additional value on the town’s holdings,” Planning Director Paul Materazzo said. “We’re essentially looking to create an overlay district on a number of properties that will allow for flexible zoning.”
The zoning area being proposed also includes parcels within a triangle shape formed by North Main, Pearson and Railroad streets. This includes homes on Lewis Street and Buxton Court.
The proposal doesn’t aim to replace homes with businesses. It seeks to add uses for developers who may want to build in that area in the future, according to Materazzo.
The impetus for creating new zoning is the three acres of town-owned land that could be sold to developers if the Town Yard is moved, according to Materazzo.
“The town could stand to gain about $3.3 million for selling just the property with the zoning in hand,” he said. “So, essentially, what the community is doing as part of this overlay process is clearing the way, putting in the community plan we feel is appropriate for this area, and setting the table for the development community to come in and develop based on the community’s vision.”
Lynn Kim, a Barnham Road resident whose mother owns a business on Pearson Street, said “we do need to move forward with this project.”