Planning and Economic Development News
May 3, 2023 Update
Good Morning, Pepperell!
Below please find some updates from what the Planning Department has been up to!
- The Zoning Working Group has been working hard at looking at different areas of the zoning bylaw that need updates. So far, we’ve looked at our existing Accessory Apartment bylaw, and are currently looking at the Table of Uses and Town Center Bylaw. You can watch the meetings and check out the draft documents here: https://town.pepperell.ma.us/834/Zoning-Revisions-Working-Group
- We are gathering input from the public through a survey on Accessory Apartments (also known as Accessory Dwelling Units or ADUs). Please complete the survey here: https://pepperellma.viewpointcloud.com/categories/1080/record-types/1006562. You will need to set up an account to complete the survey, but the survey itself is anonymous.
- The Economic Development Advisory Committee has opened up applications for the Adopt-an-Island Program. Businesses, Families and other Groups are invited to submit an application here: https://pepperellma.viewpointcloud.com/categories/1087. An informational flyer is attached.
- The Railroad Square and Rotary Sidewalk projects, funded through grants from MassDOT, will be going out to bid in the next week, with work expected to begin in August 2023. These projects were funded through grants from MassDOT last year. The work will also include the installation of new crosswalks on Hollis Street in front of Varnum Brook Elementary and at the Tucker Street intersection. The schools also received a grant for new Dynamic Speed Feedback and School Zone Speed Limit Signs. We are looking forward to new and safe sidewalks and crosswalks.
- The Town Hall renovation project is going well and is on schedule for completion by the end of May. The project involves replacement of the ceiling in the historic Prescott Hall, which was previously in terrible condition. The work also includes repair of the plaster and painting of the Main Hall area. More information can be found here: https://town.pepperell.ma.us/818/Current-Projects
- The Planning Board continues to work on revisions to the Planning Board Procedural Rules and Regulations and Design Standards. The next public hearing is scheduled for May 10, 2023 at 6:00pm. You can attend in person or online. Details can be found at: https://town.pepperell.ma.us/calendar.aspx.
- The Planning Department invites all Pepperell business owners and their team members to solicit input on the Town’s zoning and Economic Development strategies. If you have a Pepperell business, please join us on Tuesday, May 16, 2023 at 2pm at The Barn Door, 51 South Road, Pepperell, for a constructive discussion with the Town’s Zoning Consultant, Ted Brovitz, our Economic Development Advisory Committee, and Planning Department on how we can support our local businesses through updates to our zoning bylaw and other economic development strategies. The discussion will also include information on the Town’s new Adopt-an-Island Program, and the proposed wayfinding kiosks. Please RSVP to firstname.lastname@example.org and include the name of your business.
- Town Meeting has been continued to a 2nd night scheduled for Monday, May 8th at 7:00PM at the Nissitissit Middle School. You can view the Warrant here: https://town.pepperell.ma.us/271/Town-Meeting-Warrants-Results. Attending town meetings is an essential way to participate in the democratic process and have a say in local governance. Here are a few reasons why attending Town Meeting is important:
- Exercise your civic duty: Participating in town meetings is one of the fundamental rights and duties of citizenship. It is an opportunity to actively engage in the democratic process, contribute to the community, and help shape local policies.
- Stay informed: Attending town meetings allows you to stay up-to-date on the latest issues, concerns, and developments in your community. It is an opportunity to learn about the decisions that affect your daily life, such as zoning laws, school budgets, and infrastructure projects.
- Influence policy decisions: By attending town meetings, you have the opportunity to express your views and influence policy decisions that affect your community. You can voice your opinions, provide feedback, and engage in constructive dialogue with other members of the community.
- Build community: Attending town meetings is an excellent way to meet and connect with other members of your community who share similar interests and concerns. It is an opportunity to build relationships, establish networks, and work together to make your community a better place to live.
Some articles of interest I’ve read this past month:
- ADUs: An Animated Tour (by AARP): https://www.aarp.org/livable-communities/housing/info-2021/animated-guide-adus.html
- ‘Three Ways Zoning Can Advance Housing and Climate Justice’ https://housingmatters.urban.org/articles/three-ways-zoning-can-advance-housing-and-climate-justice
- ‘At Home on Main Street – A Housing Guidebook for Local Leaders’ https://higherlogicdownload.s3.amazonaws.com/NMSC/390e0055-2395-4d3b-af60-81b53974430d/UploadedImages/Resource_Center/A_Housing_Guidebook_for_Local_Leaders_f.pdf
- ‘Single Family Zoning Opponents Score Victories in Florida and Virginia’ https://www.costar.com/article/254995912/single-family-zoning-opponents-score-victories-in-florida-and-virginia
- ‘Think Globally, Build Like Hell Locally - How can we decarbonize the economy when we can’t even build housing? https://www.motherjones.com/politics/2023/04/property-values-build-housing-decarbonize-electrify-everything/
- ‘The Inequality of Aging in Place’ https://housingmatters.urban.org/research-summary/inequality-aging-place
- ‘Yes in Our Backyards. No, really.’ https://www.motherjones.com/environment/2023/04/yimby-nimby-progressives-clean-energy-infrastructure-housing-development-wind-solar-bill-mckibben/
- ‘The Brutal calculus of life expectancy and where you can afford to live.’ https://www.bostonglobe.com/2023/04/18/magazine/brutal-calculus-life-expectancy-where-you-can-afford-live/
- Will We Ever See Affordable Housing Prices Again? https://awealthofcommonsense.com/2023/04/will-we-ever-see-affordable-housing-prices/ One of the best synopsis of the effects of household formation/remote work/rising interest rates in our current housing predicament.
October 17, 2022
Pepperell received a $68,000 Community Planning Grant from the Community One Stop for Growth program through the Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD).
The Town of Pepperell will perform an audit of the existing zoning bylaw and develop amendments that would update the bylaw, including to ensure consistency with MGL Ch. 40A and judicial decisions; identify sections of the bylaw that require clarity and consistency; provide recommendations on appropriate lot size requirements to better accommodate affordable housing; and better accommodation of agricultural and commercial uses.
May 26, 2022
Pepperell is the proud recipient of a $200K grant through the Shared Streets and Spaces Program through MassDOT for Railroad Square Sidewalk Network Improvements.
The project will make pedestrian and bicycle safety improvements to historic Railroad Square, which is the heart of the business district in Pepperell, Massachusetts. Safety improvements will include installing Rapid Flashing Beacons with advanced LED signs at the crossing of the Nashua River Rail Trail across Groton Street to provide a highly visible advance warning of users approaching the crossing. The project would also entail the expansion of the existing sidewalk area along Main Street to accommodate space for improved streetscape such as benches and planters, outdoor dining, and way-finding signage to enhance pedestrian and bicyclist awareness of local destinations and events. Additionally, the travel lanes along Main Street will be narrowed for the purpose of traffic calming and speed reduction, the crosswalks will be upgraded to include modifications for ADA compliance and new striping to provide better visibility for pedestrians and drivers, and the parking area along Main Street will be re-striped, with additional handicap parking spaces added for improved accessibility.
A neighborhood/business meeting will be scheduled soon to go through the project timeline.
The draft project documents can be viewed here:
January 30, 2022
The Peter Fitzpatrick School is in the news! Read about the food hub and commercial kitchen in the works! See the article here.
January 5, 2022
The Town, through the Planning Board, has hired Brovitz Community Planning & Design, in association with Dodson & Flinker, Inc., to provide professional services in updating the existing Mixed Use Overlay District Bylaw to encompass Pepperell's full downtown area, including Railroad Square, the adjacent former mill site, and the Main Street economic corridor down to the historic Town Hall.
The Town is using funding provided through the One Stop for Growth Grant Program to create a Mixed-Use Overlay District (MUOD) bylaw that extends an existing MUOD throughout the Town’s central economic area known as Railroad Square/The Main Street Corridor. The extended MUOD is the linchpin in the Town’s long-term economic and community development strategy. It should create a pedestrian-friendly downtown district, provide additional housing opportunities, and enhance the economic resiliency and strength of the businesses in this area by establishing a unique destination identity. The proposed MUOD will emphasize and protect the distinctive features and character of this unique area, and encourage a mix of retail, service, office, affordable and age-friendly housing, live-work units, and public activities that coexist naturally with a pedestrian orientation, while taking full advantage of the vitality and resiliency that mixed uses can bring to a community.
The consultant will examine the development potential throughout the area known as Railroad Square/The Main Street Corridor. The consultant will assess existing conditions, identify existing and future infrastructure capacities and improvements, identify natural constraints, with a key focus on identifying development potential for the project area. The consultant will engage town residents and officials in public meetings to solicit input to develop a vision for the project area. The end result will be a bylaw that incorporates the above-mentioned topics.
Read the Proposal here.
January 5, 2022
The Planning Office, acting through the Agricultural Commission, The Fitzpatrick Collaborative, and Planning Board, has hired Holly Fowler with Northbound Ventures Consulting, LLC to perform the stakeholder engagement work related to a potential future food hub and commercial kitchen business development at The Fitzpatrick Collaborative (former Peter Fitzpatrick School).
In the Fall of 2021, The Fitzpatrick Collaborative received a Collaborative Workspace Program grant from MassDevelopment to develop an operational business plan for a commercial kitchen and food hub located at The Fitzpatrick Collaborative. The Fitzpatrick Collaborative hired the Director of the Worcester Regional Food Hub to develop the business plan, with future plans to execute upon the business plan and establish a self-sustained commercial kitchen and food hub for the community, managed by The Fitzpatrick Collaborative. The purpose of the study through Northbound Ventures will be to develop a supply and demand side feasibility study to include food producers (supply side), and, on the demand side, wholesale buyers that constitute a food hub system. The engagement process will include stakeholders from Pepperell and neighboring towns within a 25-mile radius.
Read the proposal from Northbound Ventures here.
December 3, 2021
Congratulations to the Pepperell Historical Commission for their receipt of a Partnership Grant from Freedom's Way Heritage Association for $5,000 to hire a consultant to design and plan the first phase of a historic building survey. The survey will provide a detailed comprehensive survey of the Town's historical buildings as a first step to listing properties on the National Register of Historical Places. More information about the Freedom's Way National Heritage Area can be found at https://www.freedomsway.org.
December 12, 2021
Congratulations to the Pepperell Agricultural Commission on their 1st Christmas in the Country Event. The event promoted local farms and their products including Upswing Farm, Nissitisett Apiaries, Clover Luck Farm, Herb Hill Farm, and Maker Farm.
December 13, 2021
Congratulations to Uma Flowers at 2 Tarbell Street for officially opening their doors on December 8, 2021. Read more in the Nashoba Valley Voice here.