FRAMINGHAM – The Framingham Planning Board held a public meeting last night to discuss proposed changes to the City’s Transfer of Development Rights (TDR) bylaw.
These changes would replace several bylaws that were put in place in 2015, when Framingham was a Town.
The goals of TDR are:
- To preserve working farming spaces
- To retain open space
- To increase tax base
- To promote commercial development
- To create jobs
The two major groups involved in TDR are the giving parcel and the receiving parcel.
The giving parcel refers to developable farm land, open space parcel or historic structures.
The receiving parcel refers to TDR, the party which would receive the transfer of rights. The parcel boundaries undergoing development must be at least 500 feet from a residential zoning district.
There are receiving parcel development rights under TDR that must also be followed.
The building height, which was once at 35 percent, has been eliminated. This means that no buildings on these receiving parcels can be over 6 stories high.
However, there has been an increase in lot coverage. It has increased from 15 percent to 75 percent, meaning buildings have the ability to expand the overall footprint but not the height.
Under TDR, there is also a max increase in floor-area ratio. The new ratio would be 2.0. According to the Planning Board, the ratio increase is intended to allow developers to create more pedestrian-friendly areas.
Several residents spoke about the TDR proposed changes at the public hearing last night.
District 4 City Councilor Michael Cannon was curious as to the time frame that would be allotted between the presentation of a potential receiving parcel and public comment.
Planning Board Administrator Amanda Loomis stated that there would be a time frame of 35 days.
Bill McCarthy, of Westgate Road, expressed worry over TDR after a test case with a hotel in Framingham had resulted in a problematic plot of land and the fact that it has cost an extra $3 million to develop.
According to McCarthy, this area is “the gateway to Framingham from the West” and is not a reassuring use of TDR. He added that the city “has already survived 300 years without TDR.”
According to Planning Board Chair Christine Long, the sole intent of TDR is to save as much open space in Framingham as possible. Any variances are intended only for small elements of design. She added that TDR has not worked in the past in part because the FAR was too small.
Scott Wadland of the Pheasant Hill neighborhood expressed concern over the fact of whether or not TDR would be used in a balanced and appropriate way.
Wadland believes more research is required before the city approves TDR.
One such suggestion included the idea of a city TDR Bank, which is currently not in the proposal.
“What is the Framingham that we leave to our children and grandchildren going to look like,” he questioned.
The Planning Board meeting on TDR continued until after 10 p.m. and public comments were eventually cut off for time purposes.
The public hearing will continue on Thursday, March 15 in the Ablondi Room of the Memorial Building.