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Hot Topic: Chelmsford Route 40 Rezoning

August 28, 2018

CHELMSFORD -- The public hearing for the proposed Route 40 rezoning plan continues Wednesday night, this time at a larger venue than the last.

The Planning Board will meet at 6:30 p.m. at the Chelmsford High School Performing Arts Center to hear additional public comment on the proposal, which would change both the underlying zoning of the area between Route 3 and the Westford line and create a Route 40 Groton Road Mixed Use Redevelopment Overlay District that would direct the permitting process, based on Community Enhancement and Investment Overlay District, or CEIOD, guidelines.

Under the first draft of the proposal, zoning of 38 acres on the north side of Groton Road would change from industrial to commercial. On the south side, which is all zoned residential, about 7 1/2 acres directly abutting the road would be changed to commercial, and another 7 1/2 acres behind that would be changed to multifamily. Another option would be to remove the multifamily piece and rezone only the portions targeted for commercial development.

Residents packed the Chelmsford Center for the Arts last Wednesday for the opening of the public hearing to learn more about the proposal and voice their displeasure with it.

Many residents, especially those living within or in the immediate area of the proposed zone, expressed a variety of concerns with the plan, including a developer’s role in its creation and how it would change the character of the neighborhood.

Lowell developer Christopher Cox, via Northstar Realty LLC, has gained control over a majority of the properties within the proposed zone, either by ownership or agreements with current owners who want to sell their homes.

Residents already upset with the proposal have been further incensed by lawn signs placed at each of the Cox-controlled properties denoting support of the zoning changes.

Cox’s attorney, Doug Deschenes, said last Wednesday they would prepare and make themselves available to speak at the continued hearing.

The meeting will also cover other zoning-related proposed articles for fall Town Meeting, including:

n revisions related to the display of flags on commercial properties;

n revisions related to the minimum lot size and associated requirements for keeping small animals and chickens;

n a new zoning bylaw providing options and regulations for the preservation and reuse of historical structures;

n revisions to the definition of a multifamily dwelling.

The CHS PAC is located at 200 Richardson Road.

Follow Alana Melanson at facebook.com/alana.lowellsun or on Twitter @alanamelanson.

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