There is widespread acknowledgment that we need to address challenges in current zoning code and strong support for updating and reorganizing it. As far back as FY21, the Select Board goals included a zoning review, and one key goal of the newly reorganized director position was to bring the zoning up to date. To begin that process, the Town engaged Barrett Planning to review the current code and prepare a document identifying the issues they feel the Town needs to address.
The “Zoning Diagnostic Report,” prepared by Barrett Planning, identifies the areas in the Billerica Zoning Bylaw that need to be addressed and explains each issue. The report is organized into two key sections: “Part 1. Technical Analysis” and “Part 2. Policy Considerations.” The Technical Analysis section identifies issues with structure, organization, and consistency. It will become the basis for the recodification. The Policy Considerations section identifies areas where Billerica zoning has not kept pace with best practices or makes it harder for the community to encourage the kind of development it wants while allowing other types with limited regulation.
The diagnostic audit identifies the problems but does not recommend specific changes to the zoning bylaw. It provides a roadmap for reorganizing the document and beginning discussions about potential policy changes. The recodification effort will go through the entire code comprehensively and recommend specific changes that will ultimately go to Town Meeting for legislative approval.
It is important to note that the zoning bylaw will not be redlined because it needs extensive reorganization, however the final document will include a reconciliation document that identifies how the existing content is redistributed into the new one and where any content changes might be made to ensure consistency.
The town will work with a consultant who specializes in zoning to undertake a full recodification and will follow this schedule.
- Summer 2023
Task 1: Establish new Table of Contents and organizational structure.
- Fall/Winter 2023
Task 2: Draft of Recodified Zoning Bylaw
- Winter/Spring 2024
Task 3: Final Recodified Zoning Bylaw
Public Outreach and Interaction
There will be extensive public outreach throughout this process. The scope of work includes public meetings and presentations, and our staff is committed to ongoing “office hours” in the community (Ask a Planner) to be available for drop in questions.
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ZONING RECODIFICATION UPDATES
RFP for Zoning Consulting Services was released. Responses due 8/14/2023
Town Meeting approves request for funding to undertake Zoning Recodification.