POSITIVE Planning Initiatives

Citizen group actively involved in affecting growth and development in town.

POSITIVE Planning Initiatives

Postby swamper on Sun Sep 14, 2008 1:59 pm

Kudos to Nancy Reed and others who have the "vision" to see what Tewksbury center "could" become over time with the correct planning. :)


Old-style vision for Tewksbury center
By Alexandra Mayer-Hohdahl, amayer-hohdahl@lowellsun.com
Article Last Updated: 09/14/2008 06:35:25 AM EDT

TEWKSBURY -- Strolling down a sidewalk on Main Street, peeking into storefronts here and there.

Walking into a coffee shop and coming back out to relax on a park bench outside.

Ending the afternoon by picking up a bicycle stored at a nearby rack and pedaling home without having to dodge traffic.

It seems almost unimaginable in today's town center, which is dotted with more gas stations and auto-repair shops than quaint boutiques and eateries.

Yet, it is what town officials envision for the future.

The Planning Board is poised to unveil the first draft of a town-center overlay-district bylaw it says could transform Tewksbury's core back into a charming New England neighborhood.

"It may take years to move back in time -- while moving forward," board member Nancy Reed noted. "But it's better than neglecting it altogether."

The new district would stretch along Main Street from about Old Boston Road to Chandler Street, extending slightly into nearby neighborhoods.

As an overlay district, commercial zoning that currently regulates most of the area will remain, making the town center zoning more optional than mandatory for now.

But Reed said she believes the new zoning will entice new business, mostly because it paves the way for mixed-use developments -- projects that can incorporate both business and residential aspects.

"They would be making an investment into something with more depth," she said. "And they would bring
more vitality down to the center."

"If people start using it, it will create a critical mass over time," Community Development Director Steve Sadwick added. "Given the market conditions today, it will take time. But we wanted to put the tools in place now."

The overlay district was broached in the town's 2003 Master Plan. About a year ago, the Planning Board used a technical-assistance grant to secure the services of the Northern Middlesex Council of Governments for a study.

The new bylaw is meant to start molding a unique town center: walkable, user-friendly, attractive to new businesses and encapsulating the town's character.

Currently, Main Street (Route 38) features the same zoning along the six miles from town borders with Wilmington and Lowell.

"There is really nothing defining the character out there," Sadwick noted. "Anything that could happen at the Lowell line could also happen right across from Town Hall."

Town-center zoning would differentiate a part of Tewksbury by implementing precise design and construction standards.

For example, new buildings would have to be at least two to three stories high, to accommodate businesses on the first floor and residential units above. Parking would preferably be on the side or in the back. Utilities and power lines should be underground.

The zoning even calls for specific colors, sign styles, lighting elements, trash barrels and fences to be used, so that the area features a single look.

"I hope that people see it in a positive light as an opportunity, instead of new types of restrictions," Sadwick said.

The Planning Board is tentatively scheduled to discuss the overlay district on Monday, Sept. 22.

Reed said she hopes to see "a lot of public input" then and beyond.

"We want this to be fully vetted by the public," she said.
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Re: POSITIVE Planning Initiatives

Postby redbarchetta69 on Tue Sep 16, 2008 5:37 pm

This isn't exactly going to be a popular opinion, but since when have mine been?

This is good in theory. However, the town has much bigger issues to deal with. With our town facing deficits galore, with our education system failing, with our roads falling apart, we feel the need to make a pretty town center. It's like a cancer patient plastic surgery. This "beatification" isn't going to be cheap. The town is going to have to spend money to acquire the two gas stations and any other "undesirable" businesses, much like Tyngsboro spent millions to acquire Shur-Fine for their "quaint town center". Plus it doesn't address the traffic problems there, which will require more money, and state bureaucracy. It sounds good, but so did everything else the town planned.
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Re: POSITIVE Planning Initiatives

Postby bferrari on Tue Sep 16, 2008 6:05 pm

Andover received grants from the state, we taxpayers, that Andover is using to beautify their town center. Why can't we get at this same money. We certainly need it more than Andover does.
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Re: POSITIVE Planning Initiatives

Postby theWindMachine on Thu Sep 18, 2008 9:28 am

This is a great new forum!

On trying to catch up with town issues, I have been reading about this town's efforts to rebuild the town center and applaud the planning board for taking this initiative. Looking through the news today, I noticed this paragraph in an article

"Gloucester Crossing was approved for a $2 million grant from the Massachusetts Opportunity Relocation and Expansion Jobs Capital Program, which provides grant funding for public infrastructure improvements needed to support business expansion."

It seems that there are a lot of funds available to cities and towns for various improvements and what have you. Is Tewksbury going after these funds?
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Re: POSITIVE Planning Initiatives

Postby redbarchetta69 on Thu Sep 18, 2008 11:50 am

We may get state money, but how much is still up in the air. Hopefully after the senior center and other badly mangled projects we've learned not to blindly enter projects because "they're for the good of the town". Remember the main reason the senior center went over budget is because LB relied on getting a grant she didn't get. Lessons we need to apply here:

1. Always ask questions. Lot's of questions.
2. There's a motive to everything, and someone stands to profit.
3. Don't include extras we don't need or can't afford.
4. Never depend on state money or grants coming in.
5. Don't expect a bailout if we screw up.
6. Ask more questions.

I for one, will be asking alot of questions, some the town planners may not want to hear.
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Re: POSITIVE Planning Initiatives

Postby swamper on Sun Oct 05, 2008 4:09 pm

Tewksbury hearing set on overlay district
By Alexandra Mayer-Hohdahl, amayer-hohdahl@lowellsun.com
Article Last Updated: 10/04/2008 06:37:17 AM EDT

TEWKSBURY -- The Planning Board is inviting Main Street property and business owners to discuss a proposed Town Center overlay district during a public workshop on Monday.

Planning officials believe the overlay district, which would stretch along Main Street from about Old Boston Road to Chandler Street, could transform Tewksbury's core back into a charming New England neighborhood.

The new bylaw that would implement the district calls for precise design and construction standards to turn the town center into a space that is walkable, user-friendly and attractive to new businesses, while encapsulating the town's character.

Currently, Main Street (Route 38) features the same zoning along the 6 miles from town borders with Wilmington and Lowell.

Because the new bylaw calls for an overlay district, the commercial zoning that currently regulates most of the area will remain, making the town center zoning more optional than mandatory for now.

But planning officials believe the new zoning will prove enticing to businesses because it paves the way for mixed-use developments. They also expect the zoning to have a snowball effect once several developers apply it.

"It may take years to move back in time -- while moving forward," Planning Board member Nancy Reed has said. "But it's better than neglecting it altogether."

Monday's public workshop is scheduled to kick off at 7:30 p.m., in Town Hall. To view the draft bylaw and associated documents,

visit http://www.tewksbury.info/dcd/planbd.
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Re: POSITIVE Planning Initiatives

Postby redbarchetta69 on Sun Oct 05, 2008 6:57 pm

If we're going to do this and get state money, why don't we expand upon this. We could apply this plan for other parts of town as well and encourage growth in village centers like Acton does.
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Re: POSITIVE Planning Initiatives

Postby bferrari on Sun Oct 05, 2008 8:52 pm

Andover is taking State funds and has applied these funds to the refurbishing of Andover Center.

To see Planning Board of Tewksbury take this initiative would have been unheard of with the old guard in place. It is never too late to make positive changes. Never. Kudos to the Planning Board for taking this great second step. Their first great step was of course, the new Master Plan. :D
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Re: POSITIVE Planning Initiatives

Postby swamper on Tue Oct 07, 2008 3:52 pm

Was glad to see a decent turnout for the public forum last night at the Planning Board Mtg. The presentation was well done and handouts were made available. IMO, interest in the concept of this plan is there, just needs to be nurtured and guided in a positive direction. Questions were asked and hopefully explained and more public input is wanted and encouraged as the initiative goes from here. Kudos to all who are working on this planning aspect towards our Town's future improvement. It is nice to finally see the goals of our Town's Master Plan being utilized and not sitting on a dusty shelf as the former one did. A small "first step" toward a long journey in a positive direction. :)


Boards have new vision for Tewksbury town center
By Jessica K. Wilson, Sun Correspondent
Article Last Updated: 10/07/2008 06:43:18 AM EDT

TEWKSBURY -- It's hard to picture taking a quiet stroll down Tewksbury's high-traffic Main Street for coffee and a paper today.

Last night, the Planning Board revealed its road map to a pedestrian-friendly, traditional, New England-style town center.

Steve Sadwick, community development director, and Beverly Woods from the Northern Middlesex Council on Governments brought an idea broached in the town's 2003 Master Plan to life through drafting bylaws and design guidelines for the stretch of Main Street between Old Boston Road and Chandler Street, including parts of Pleasant Street.

These bylaws would allow for "business as usual" in the neighborhood, with current zoning bylaws remaining intact for all current and future businesses.

The overlay district bylaws would allow residential, commercial and civic uses of the property.

In return, developers would adhere to a set of design guidelines that would establish a traditional, unified appearance in the town center.

"I'm representing the Tewksbury Historical Society, and this looks very exciting. We'll support it," said David Hunt.

"I'm encouraged by the guidelines for lighting and sidewalks. What are the benefits to residents in this area?" asked Nick Leone, who owns a home in the proposed overlay district.

"These guidelines encourage a walkable downtown. But it may take a number of years to see the benefit," said Woods.

Not everyone is a fan of the new plan.

"I'm not on Main or Pleasant. How would this benefit me?" asked Randall Gale asked, owner of Gale's Greenhouse.

"I'm concerned when the government shows up at my door and says, 'I want to help you.' It's going to take me some time to absorb all this," said Joel Deputat, an owner of four Main Street properties.

"If anything, it will add economic value to your property. It's an option to participate in the overlay bylaw, not a restriction," said Woods.

Full text on the bylaws and design guidelines is available at http://www.tewksbury.info/dcd/planbd. Another public meeting will be held Oct. 28. The Planning Board is on target to present the plan to the town for a vote at Town Meeting in May.
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Re: POSITIVE Planning Initiatives

Postby WickedCheesy on Mon Oct 13, 2008 12:09 pm

I attended the meeting for the Planning Board, and am amazed on how the depression has still had an affect on some generations. The town is here trying to generate economic development as well as social development and the old timers are continuing to "run and hide" I heard one guy get up and ask the questions of "why do I need to be in this overlay district?" and the board explain to him that he does not and wouldn't be affected by this development but insisted he be taken out of the overlay district. In the same comment he admitted that he runs his business out of him home, so this is telling me that this person went to the town for help to start his small business, and now when the town is asking the same in return, he wants nothing to do with it.

Tewksbury Tough? I am starting to think that this means Tewksbury Stubborn. As much as some of you don't like the expenses of the Senior Center, Library, South Station, Fire Station and soon a state of the art energy effecient High School, they are beautiful buildings and essentials to growing this town and attracting more families, higher incomes.....and yes higher tax base. Where is Tewksbury ranked in taxes?

Tewksbury Town Center is a great idea and should be endorsed by property owners and businesses who care about the town and their businesses. If they don't want to take advantage of the by laws that restrict them from multi using their properties than either be quiet or sell your property.

Good job Steve and cast.
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Re: POSITIVE Planning Initiatives

Postby swamper on Mon Oct 13, 2008 1:24 pm

Very well said, WickedCheesy! It's nice to see some "young entrepreneurs" embrace this concept for the POSITIVE initiative it truly IS. I am glad to see you will be part of the process. Hopefully as time goes on and more is explained/understood by the rest of the more shall we say "skeptical " :wink:, our Planning officials in conjunction with our newly formed Economic Development Committee can begin to steer our town in this worthwhile direction for the future. :)
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Planning Initiatives

Postby bferrari on Mon Oct 13, 2008 2:08 pm

I completely embrace this new concept. Tewksbury can still give the image of a "quaint New England town" if at least the center has some semblence to that idea. It may take years for this vision to actually pay off, but if you don't start now, when will you start. This also costs us nothing, so really it's a no-brainer.

Great idea, great job. Let's hope that we are going after all the grant money we can to make this happen ??
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Re: POSITIVE Planning Initiatives

Postby redbarchetta69 on Mon Oct 13, 2008 3:51 pm

I'm still skeptical since this is the same Planning Board that allowed strip malls to pop up along 38. Drive down South Tewksbury and you'll see abandoned storefronts left and right. How does a "quaint" town center help us? It will still be economically depressed down here. The town has bigger things to worry about. It shouldn't be in the business of micromanaging business, especially when we lack funds to keep a fire station open.
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Re: POSITIVE Planning Initiatives

Postby swamper on Mon Oct 13, 2008 4:37 pm

You keep shooting stuff down and "say" in an earlier post, quote: "I for one, will be asking alot of questions, some the town planners may not want to hear." Yet I don't recall seeing YOU at the public hearing that just took place! Re. Rt. 38 strip malls....You can't compare the people on the Planning Board NOW to the past and the likes of the Sullivans, Hallisseys, et.al which I'm sure is "before your time." This board with people like Nancy Reed, David Plunkett and Vin Spada (who also comprise the Zoning Bylaw Subcommittee giving even MORE of their time to this community) works hard and is doing a good job and are beginning to incorporate smart planning initiatives that should have started YEARS ago....in a positive attempt to turn things around. I, for one think it's about time! Town funds and a lot of research, time and hard work were put in a few years back to update our Master Plan. Would you rather see it just gather dust on a back shelf like the old one did under the "old regime?" They should be commended for having some vision to make our town better from a planning perspective which is what they have jurisdiction over. Besides which, no one is micro-managing businesses here....quite the contrary...it is creating more opportunity for them IF they CHOOSE to.....otherwise they will continue to operate as they've always done so please get the facts straight. I suggest you take advantage of the NEXT public hearing on Oct, 28th and ask all those pressing questions....maybe then you'll see the light.
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Re: POSITIVE Planning Initiatives

Postby bferrari on Mon Oct 13, 2008 4:40 pm

Hey Red,

This is NOT the same Planning Board, also certainly not the same Town Planner (although the title has changed).

Ask Andover if their town center is depressed. If we had a proper setup and zoning years ago, we would have a nice vibrant town center that generates revenue. If your response is, "well Andover is wealthy", then look at other town centers like Hudson, Stow, Maynard, Burlington, Groton, Amesbury, Littleton, crikey even Lowell.
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