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Industrial park regs near finish

August 04, 2010

SOUTHBRIDGE — With the idea of a wind farm potentially in the cards, the Planning Board finished the bulk of its work on new site plan review regulations for the industrial park.

"We don't want a heavy-industry, smokestack type of development up there," afterward, when asked to summarize what the regulations would prevent.

Chairman Paul St. Jean said the rules "give us wide authority on building design, aesthetics, lighting, shrubbery" and other aspects of the businesses locating there, in an effort to make the whole area — termed a business opportunity district — attractive and consistent. Without the changes, he added, the town would only have special permit power, which is "much narrower" and less flexible.

As an example of what the difference would mean to everyday people seeing it, St. Jean pointed to two pharmacies downtown. He said the kinds of landscaping and other requirements included as part of the Rite Aid property came from site plan review, while the CVS a few doors down was authorized under a special permit.

On Wednesday, the board reviewed the new "table of use regulations" it plans to submit to the Town Council for approval. Those define what can and cannot be built in any of the town's nine zoning districts and whether they need special permits or site plan review; most of the highlighted changes would require the latter.

Among the things that jump out are these: Almost all schools of any type will now need site plan review in any zone, as will "mixed use" apartment/commercial sites and local government facilities; Agricultural uses excluding "piggeries and fur farms" are being allowed without permits in all zones on parcels of two or more acres (but farm stands and salesrooms still need permits or review depending on zone); and most forms of sales, restaurants, office uses, and manufacturing now require site plan review.

See Friday's Southbridge Evening News for complete coverage of community news.

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