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Letter to the Editor: Planning Board chair backs MBTA zoning article

by | May 5, 2024 | Letter to Editor

I am currently abroad on business, but as the chair of the Planning Board, I wish to express my support for Article 39, MBTA Communities Zoning.

The zoning is designed with three main goals:

1. Legal compliance, thereby avoiding lawsuits against Hopkinton and maintaining access to state funding.

2. Long-term proactive planning that allows us to strategically guide where housing is built, rather than react to developers’ proposals.

3. Minimize negative impact to school enrollment numbers and town services.

Our focus centers on two primary areas.

Cedar Street zone: Includes The Preserve condominiums and several properties across Cedar Street (Carbone’s). Proximity to the Southborough train station aligns well with the law. However, development is extremely unlikely, as there is no sewer service.  Additionally, The Preserve could not be redeveloped without 75% of its owners agreeing to sell.

Downtown zone: Encompasses properties from the 85/135 intersection up to the Freemason building. Although far from the train station, MBTA zoning here would support local businesses and help breathe life into our downtown. Current zoning already allows dense housing, but only as mixed use, where commercial/retail must also be included. For example, the Hopkinton Drug parcel currently allows for denser housing (about 25 units per acre) than what the MBTA zone (about 15 units per acre) would provide.

Others areas were considered, such as South Street and current high density zones (apartment complexes), but all added additional risks that went against our three goals.

Your vote on Article 39 should NOT be based on your view of dense housing. It SHOULD be based on the implications for Hopkinton. A “Yes” vote will allow Hopkinton to expand zoning on several parcels with minimal development. Conversely, a “No” vote risks costly legal challenges and losing access to state grants. Failure could also result in less local control over future zoning changes.

As of May 1, 44 municipalities have already approved MBTA housing. Don’t let the several towns denying this zoning or the false information being spread about our zoning influence your vote. Please support Hopkinton in passing this practical, balanced and thoughtful approach.

Vote YES on Article 39.

— Gary Trendel, chair, Hopkinton Planning Board

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