Village Common Form Based Code

The Planning Board, working with a consulting team from Utile, is presenting a zoning bylaw amendment to support the revitalization of Littleton Common. This work started in the Fall of 2018 following Town Meeting appropriation of funds to hire a consultant for "form based zoning", with funding supplemented by a Planning Assistance Grant from the state Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs.

Details on the project history are linked below, any questions, please contact the Planning Board Office at 978/540-2425 or email Maren Toohill.

Village Common FBC Questions & Answers
> Are developers interested in redeveloping using FBC and the farmhouse design?
Yes, there is interest in redeveloping using FBC. For example, Northern Bank, who has been working on a redevelopment plan has approached the Planning Board and has been working cooperatively to incorporate their proposal and provide constructive feedback towards the proposed bylaw. The owners of the elastic factory at 410 Great Road have expressed interest in pursuing a mixed-use redevelopment for that site; and the owners of the IBM site are interested in looking at how re-use of the historic Tuttle House at 538 King Street could be accomplished.

> What will FBC cost the Town?
At 2018 fall Town Meeting, residents voted to appropriate $42,000 to study and draft FBC, which is Article 24 at 2020 spring Town Meeting.  FBC is one of several projects to transform the Common.  Other public improvement projects to fulfill the vision include traffic calming, shuttles to/from the train station, and sewer, which are the purview of other Boards, not the Planning Board.  To facilitate guidance regarding the Common, in Spring 2020, the Littleton Common Revitalization Committee was established with a member representing the Planning Board, Housing Trust, Sewer Working Group, and Transportation Advisory, Economic Development and Finance Committees.  A member of the Board of Selectmen currently chairs this committee.

> What will be the impact on town economics?
Positive. An initial economic analysis conducted in the Revitalization Roadmap, p. 71-72, shows revenues to retail, food services, professional & tech services and residential rents at $49M. Based on this scenario and current tax rates, incremental revenue to the Town could be $275k. This assumes: likely build-out in the Common as modeled. Redevelopment is ultimately dependent on private interests, land value, and construction cost. As such, likely build-out under the FBC bylaw could take decades. 

> Will FBC significantly increase the number of housing units in Littleton?
Housing, including apartments, currently exists in the Common district, so that aspect is not new.  The Revitalization Roadmap, p. 71, summarizes housing at full build out-over many years, in every possible space, up to 193 units. Some developers may not want housing, but if they do, the number of units in each development is limited by the parking made available, which must comply with the bylaw.  Sections 173-221J and 173-224 of the proposed zoning bylaw explains this parking requirement.  Housing in the Common is intended allow a wider range of housing options for folks trying to build life as an adult and folks trying to preserve the life they have built in Littleton.  

>What will be the impact to town resources like school enrollment? 
Typically when new housing is discussed it is understandable to think that means more children in the school system.  However, a recent study from the Massachusetts Area Planning Council (MAPC) presented by Littleton School Committee in 2018, shows that is not the case. MAPC observed no meaningful correlation between housing production rates and enrollment growth over a six-year period, and projected the number of children in Littleton under age 15 to fall by more than 500.  Based on the parking requirements of the proposed zoning bylaw, it is anticipated that most of the new housing will be smaller units appealing to our seniors and younger populations.  

> Does FBC make sense for the Common if there is no sewer? 
Yes, because developers would have clearer development direction than currently exists. In the last ten years, only one project (235 Great Rd) has been developed using the existing zoning.

 

At the Planning Board meeting of March 5, 2020, the Planning Board voted to recommend the following updates to Town Meeting:
Village Common Form Based Code Zoning Bylaw FINAL
Changes elsewhere in zoning bylaw FINAL
Littleton Common FBC Map FINAL


The Planning Board Public Hearing on the proposed Zoning Bylaw Amendment for Form Based Code was held on Thursday, March 5, 2020 at 6:45 p.m. in Room 103 of the Shattuck Street Town Offices, in preparation for the May 4, 2020 Annual Town Meeting.
Public Hearing Notice
Form Based Code Bylaw - Feb. 24, 2020 DRAFT
Form Based Code Bylaw - Feb. 11, 2020 DRAFT
Changes Elsewhere in Zoning Bylaw
Map: Proposed Village Common FBC District

Comments on FBC 
Flanagan Feb. 26, 2020
Vaughan Feb. 14, 2020
Borba Feb. 2, 2020

Presentations on Form Based Code
February 10, 2020
September 4, 2019
December 11, 2019 (at Littleton Business Association meeting)
July 25, 2019
Posters from July 25, 2019
May 16, 2019 - FBC "Teach-In"
September 20, 2018

FBC Flyers
September 4, 2019
July 25, 2019
May 16, 2019
Fall 2018

Detailed information on Form-Based zoning is available on the Form-Based Code Instutute website or the Planners Web website. The State website has Form Based Code information as well as Massachusetts Case Studies on FBC