760 Washington Street, Stoughton is also known as the Malcolm and Parsons building and it’s been an eyesore in Stoughton Center for years. The issue is parking. The Town of Stoughton has told the builder, Steven Connelly of Connelly Construction Corp., that he doesn’t have enough parking spots to build the building that he wants to build. The only remedy, and it’s an onerous remedy, is to try to change the zoning at Town Meeting. The Zoning Board of Appeals does not have the power, according to the Town Charter, to allow the development to move forward without the necessary number of parking spaces.
Tom Relihan of The Enterprise wrote a story entitled “Downtown Stoughton Project Stalled by Zoning Limitations” on July 27th. I wrote a blog post in March entitled “Stoughton Real Estate Development – A Challenge” which centered around the issues at 710 Turnpike Street. The song remains the same in the case of 760 Washington Street… Nothing can be done without a zoning change approval at Town Meeting.
1.5 AMENDMENTS. This By-Law may from time to time be changed by amendment, addition, or repeal by the Town Meeting in the manner provided in G.L. c. 40A, s.5, and any amendments thereto.
Town Meeting is not held regularly enough to take action on issues like parking space waivers so the Zoning Board of Appeals should be granted more authority.
Here’s the Table of Off-Street Parking Regulations within the Town of Stoughton, Massachusetts Zoning By-Laws and Map as Amended through annual Town Meeting May 5th, 2014.
2. Multifamily dwelling – Two for each single bedroom unit; three for each two bedroom unit; four for each three or more bedroom unit.
Let’s use some logic and reason here and ask some questions. Why are 2 parking spaces required for a one bedroom unit? Why are 3 parking spaces required for a two bedroom unit? Maybe 1.25 parking spaces or even 1.5 parking spaces per one bedroom unit would be logical and reasonable but requiring 2 parking spaces per one bedroom unit is saying, defacto, that every one bedroom unit will be occupied by a couple that each owns or leases a vehicle. The requirement of 3 parking spaces for a two bedroom unit makes even less sense and, furthermore, these zoning requirements are contemptuously restrictive.
The Boston Planning and Development Agency is “Fostering Transit-Oriented Development in Boston“.
…neighborhood center should provide a range of spaces and activities that are appropriate to the nature of the neighborhood center and the long term goals of the community—and therefore will need land-use and design policies that support community life.
The implied argument that the Town of Stoughton is not the City of Boston, if one were to make that argument, is gauche and, frankly, obtuse.
The MBTA writes about TOD on its page entitled “
T-Projects and Transit Oriented Development“.
TOD represents an opportunity for communities all across Massachusetts to enhance their quality of life by turning parking lots and underutilized land near public transportation into vibrant mixed-use districts, diverse housing, and lively public places.
The MBTA has been on the cusp of Transit Oriented Development and has been selling land close to its stations for many years in order to achieve the goal.
The Town of Stoughton should be bending over backwards to redevelop Stoughton Station and allow the development of 760 Washington Street into a mixed-use building with four stories, similar to what was previously approved and built at 724 Washington Street, which is located at the corner of Monk Street and Washington Street.
There are good non-profit organizations like: Friends of Stoughton Center; Friends of the State Theatre; and the Stoughton Farmers Market which have tried to inject interest and development into Stoughton Center but they’re being stymied by outdated by-laws and politics.
It’s imperative that the Town of Stoughton relaxes its multifamily dwelling standards near Stoughton Station so that the residents in the Town of Stoughton can enjoy a thriving Stoughton Center. The redevelopment of Stoughton Station in conjunction with the redevelopment of the Malcolm and Parsons building go hand-in-hand and Transit Oriented Development (TOD) should be the rallying cry! TOD! TOD!