City of Framingham Proposes New Walkable ‘Village’ Zoning for Nobscot

FRAMINGHAM – The 11-member Framingham City Council voted Tuesday night to send a proposed village zoning bylaw change to the Planning Board for a public hearing.

The City of Framingham wants to create a new zoning category called “B-3” to establish a framework for walkable, mixed use village centers in key neighborhood districts.  

The first proposed neighborhood district is Nobscot. Also being considered at a later date is Saxonville Village.

The Planning Board has scheduled a public hearing on the proposed zoning on January 31 at 7 p.m. in the Ablondi room in the Memorial Building.

Below is the proposed zoned B-3 area:

The public can have input on the proposed zoning at several community hours at the Christa McAuliffe Library branch on Water Street.


Nobscot Community Hours

Friday, January 18, 2019 – 1 to 4 p.m.
Tuesday, January 22, 5 to 7 p.m.
Friday, January 25, 1:30 to 4 p.m.
Friday, February 1, 1;30 to 4 p.m.
Monday, February 4, 9 to 11 a.m.
Tuesday, February 5, 5 to 7 p.m.
Friday, February 8, 1:30 to 4 p.m.

Framingham has been actively engaged in planning efforts since 2015, to define Nobscot as village center.

The Master Land Use Plan, 2014, set the stage advising Framingham to develop a neighborhood master plan for Nobscot, in addition to establishing new zoning that supports a mixture of uses in a walkable district.

To kick-off of such efforts as outlined in the Master Land Use Plan, 2014, the Framingham Division of Community & Economic Development developed the 2015 Villages Plan, with input from the Economic Development Industrial Commission.

The 2015 Villages Plan further directed Framingham to establish new zoning that is unique to Nobscot and allow for a mixed-use environment to encourage opportunities for reinvestment.

The 2015 Villages Plan specifically recommends

 Allow for mixed-use developments that include a combination of residential and non-residential uses

 Encourage new investment that enhances walkability, a sense of place, and connectivity

 Development opportunities that allow for additional building height and density

 Establish Design Guidelines specific to the Nobscot neighborhood

The village center of Nobscot is currently zoned Community Business (B-2). Such zoning limits the ability for a mixture of uses on one parcel, in addition to establishing a fragmented style of development that is auto dependent, despite being a village center.

The proposed B-3 District, with corresponding Nobscot Design Standards would allow for reinvestment and redevelopment as a walkable, vibrant, village center that supports a mixture of use.

The development of the B-3 District reflects extensive research of the history of the area, best recommended planning practices, communications with the Nobscot community, and the development of an economic market plan.


The objectives of the new B-3 District is to

Provide a strong and walkable commercial center within the immediate center of Village District, which transitions to a mixture of commercial and residential uses, before diminishing into an abutting residential zoning district.

Provide a vibrant mixture of offerings including art and cultural galleries/studios, community space, educational/institutional space, entertainment, office space, residential, retail, a mixture of business opportunities.

Promote a mixture of uses that provides amenities and employment opportunities for the surrounding residential neighborhoods and the region.

Encourage adaptive reuse of abandoned, vacant, or underutilized structures to re-energize the area.

Inspire development and support of small businesses and entrepreneurs though targeted workspaces, while allowing the surrounding community to take advantage of business opportunities, job creation, and economic resources.

Aspire to develop parcels at an appropriate density that supports the best interest of those living in the community, including increased opportunities for transit, while encouraging ongoing investment and reinvestment in properties within the Village District.

Allow for a mixture of uses that can support one another while attracting visitors to utilize the amenities and services offered within the Village.

Advance concepts of creating a walkable community that supports and encourages bicycle oriented modes of transportation for short trips and recreational opportunities.

Investigate and nurture educational opportunities that are able to grow and sustain viability within the community; those amenities that continue to support and grow its user base, while including multiple generations of users, and attracting those residing and visiting surrounding neighborhoods.

Preserve and enhance historical structures that retain a piece of the neighborhood’s history for future uses and events, while supporting opportunities for the structure to flourish and thrive as a new use.


Changes from the B-2 Zoning District to the B-3 District Zoning

The B-3 District zoning language is intended to

 Supports a mixture of uses on one property that allows for more than one structure on a lot.

 Increase streetscape and pedestrian orienting design, through increased street trees, outdoor seating areas, landscaped pocket parks, in addition to attractive lighting and art installations.

 Increase in height and density at the core of the district in order to support retail, transit, walkability, and other village center concepts while promoting lower density transition zones at the edges to protect residential neighborhoods adjacent to the B-3 District.

 Establish Design Standards that will provide guidance to developers as to what Framingham wants to see in Nobscot.

 Establish off-street parking maximums rather than minimums. Such flipping of the off-street parking requirements prevents projects from over parking the site thereby reducing the number of Special Permits for Reductions in Off-Street Parking reviewed by the Planning Board.

 Utilize lot coverage compared to Floor Area Ratio, which is intended to allow for better development and better use of the land.

TIMELINE

January 7, 2019 – Release of Zoning and Design Standards

January 8, 2019 – City Council refer Zoning to the Planning Board for the purposes of a public hearing

January 18, 2019 through February 8, 2019 – Community Hours (specific dates and times to be determined)

January 31, 2019 – Planning Board holds 1st public hearing

February 7, 2019 – Planning Board holds 2nd public hearing

February 19, 2019 – City Council holds 1st read

March 5, 2019 – City Council holds 2nd read

Framingham Source Editor Susan Petroni

Susan Petroni Framingham Source Editor Email: editor@FraminghamSource.com Phone: 508-315-7176

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