Frequently Asked Questions
1. What is the process for changing the zoning bylaw in MA?
Answer: Under current state law, any changes to a local zoning bylaw must go before Town Meeting for approval. A 2/3 vote is required for passage of the proposed zoning amendments. Prior to bringing proposed amendments to Town Meeting, the Planning Board is required to hold a public hearing. For this project, it is anticipated that the proposed changes will be brought before Representative Town Meeting in November 2014, with the Planning Board hearing to be scheduled earlier in the Fall of 2014.
2. How will the Reading zoning revision process work?
Answer: The Town has been working on some proposed changes to the organization of the bylaw to make it more user-friendly, as well as updating the definitions. The consultant team will be drafting the bulk of the amendments to the bylaw. The project will be overseen by the Zoning Advisory Committee which will be meeting regularly over the course of the project. Four public meetings will be conducted to obtain public input.
3. Why rewrite the zoning bylaw?
Answer: The zoning bylaw has not been comprehensively rewritten in ____ years. During that time, the Town has grown and changed substantially and many of the zoning laws have become antiquated. Piecemeal updates to the bylaw over the last several decades have resulted in a long complicated document with many confusing, and sometimes contradictory, provisions.
As our development rules have evolved, our zoning bylaw has not kept up. Moreover, many people involved or interested in the development process in Reading cites the difficulty with using and understanding the document. For these reasons, the Planning Division has been tasked with undertaking a comprehensive rewrite of the zoning code with the following basic goals in mind:
- simplify and consolidate;
- improve clarity and consistency;
- accommodate changing markets and demographics, while protecting established neighborhoods;
- reflect more sustainable policy goals;
- incorporate new zoning tools and techniques;
- incorporate recommendations from recently adopted plans; and
- improve the permitting process.
4. Why is the zoning bylaw revision project important to me?
Answer: Some of the Town’s existing zoning regulations are dated, cumbersome, and don’t reflect current objectives and needs. An updated zoning bylaw will add clarity and certainty, as well as be easier for residents, business owners, property owners, developers, staff and decision makers to use and understand. This will enable us to expedite service to you. An updated zoning bylaw will also help make the Town’s planning efforts and vision a reality by implementing the recommendations that pertain to zoning. In addition, overall development quality, design, and review processes in Reading will be enhanced with updated regulations.