Ayer Planning Board Tackles Zoning for Affordable Housing

The Ayer Planning Board recently convened to discuss changes to the town’s zoning bylaws, with a primary focus on promoting affordable housing and diversifying housing options. Key topics included rezoning to facilitate multifamily housing, establishing a board of appeals, and modifying use regulations to incentivize developers.

During the meeting, the board examined a set of amendments that would potentially reshape the town’s approach to housing. The first amendment proposed rezoning two parcels from General Residence to General Business, which was identified as a correction of a previous mapping oversight. This change was acknowledged by the board as a necessary technicality to complete the rezoning process.

The second amendment addressed the formalization of the board of appeals, specifying the number of members and alternates required to be residents of the town. This was part of a broader effort to improve the structure and clarity of town governance.

The third and perhaps most substantial amendment concerned the creation of new multifamily housing units. The board discussed the authority it could have in allowing the construction of such housing as a means to achieve target unit sizes and affordability. The amendment aimed to make it easier for developers to build under the inclusionary housing bylaw, which could help meet the town’s affordable housing needs.

The final amendment under review involved changes to the table of use regulations. It proposed adjusting permit requirements for two-family dwellings and multifamily housing, with the board paying particular attention to the implications of these changes on housing affordability and diversity.

The discussions also delved into the possibility of converting single-family homes to multifamily dwellings, with the understanding that these would still be considered new construction and subject to current regulations. The implications of this and other zoning changes on development, community needs, traffic, safety, utilities, public services, neighborhood character, natural environment, and physical impact were thoroughly analyzed.

Adjustmentsttention was given to the impact of the nearby Devens area’s development on Ayer’s housing prices, with concerns raised about the potential for gentrification. Members sought to comprehend the reasons behind Ayer’s growth relative to neighboring areas, particularly how it affected housing for lower to moderate income households.

In a detailed presentation by a member of the working group, the minimal impact of allowing two-family dwellings in certain zones was highlighted as a positive step towards encouraging more affordable housing. The presentation included an analysis of the potential impacts on various aspects of town life, such as social and economic needs, community needs, and the natural environment.

The conversation also touched upon the necessity for diverse housing types to accommodate the town’s growing population, especially given the high percentage of households in the low to moderate income range, as shown by the 2020 census data.

There were concerns raised about the aesthetics of two-family housing in certain zones, with a suggestion to include language in the bylaw to ensure these properties maintain a single-family appearance. However, there was disagreement on this point, with the opinion that the board should not dictate style but rather focus on whether similar regulations had been successful in other towns.

Another debated point was whether an amendment should reference a specific date, with one board member arguing it would necessitate future updates, while another claimed it was essential for clarity and consistency. The board ultimately decided to include the specific date of April 2022 in the amendment related to construction guidelines.

Public comments included commendations from a member of the affordable housing committee, who praised the board’s efforts to promote affordable housing in the town.

The board also discussed upcoming site plan reviews for properties on Harvard Road and Scully Road, preparing for a detailed evaluation of proposed developments. Additionally, they mentioned an upcoming event related to the Community Preservation Training Collaborative.

Note: This meeting summary was generated by AI, which can occasionally misspell names, misattribute actions, and state inaccuracies. This summary is intended to be a starting point and you should review the meeting record linked above before acting on anything you read. If we got something wrong, let us know. We’re working every day to improve our process in pursuit of universal local government transparency.
Town Manager:
Robert Pontbriand
Planning Board Officials:

Receive debriefs about local meetings in your inbox weekly:

Trending meetings
across the country:

Meeting Date
Filter by bodytypes
Agricultural Advisory Committee
Airport Advisory Board
Art and Culture Board
Beach Committee
Bike and Pedestrian Advisory Committee
Board of Elections
Board of Health
Borough Council
Building Committee
Cannabis Control Board
Cemetery Commission
Charter Revision Commission
Child and Family Services Board
City Council
City Identity Committee
Code Enforcement Board
College Board of Trustees
Community Appearance Board
Community Preservation Committee
Community Redevelopment Agency
County Council
Disability Advisory Committee
Economic Development Board
Elderly Affairs Board
Electric Advisory Board
Environmental Commission
Financial Oversight Board
Historic Preservation Commission
Housing Authority
Human Relations Committee
Human Resources Committee
Insurance Fund
Land Use Board
Library Board
Licensing Board
Mental Health Commission
Municipal Alliance
Open Space Commission
Oversight and Review Committee
Parking Authority
Parks and Gardens Commission
Parks Commission
Pension Board
Planning Board
Police Review Board
Property Assessment Board
Public Safety Committee
Recreation Commission
Redevelopment Agency
Rent Control Board
Rent Leveling Board
School Board
Sewerage Authority
Shade Tree Commission
Special Magistrate
Taxation & Revenue Advisory Committee
Tourism Board
Trails Committee
Transportation Board
Utility Board
Value Adjustment Board
Veterans Committee
Water Control Board
Women's Advisory Committee
Youth Advisory Committee
Zoning Board
Filter by County
Bay County
Bradford County
Brevard County
Broward County
Clay County
Duval County
Escambia County
Gulf County
Hendry County
Highlands County
Hillsborough County
Indian River County
Lake County
Lee County
Leon County
Levy County
Liberty County
Manatee County
Marion County
Martin County
Miami-Dade County
Monroe County
Okaloosa County
Orange County
Osceola County
Palm Beach County
Pasco County
Pinellas County
Polk County
Putnam County
Santa Rosa County
Sarasota County
Seminole County
St. Johns County
Taylor County
Volusia County
Walton County
Barnstable County
Berkshire County
Bristol County
Essex County
Franklin County
Hampden County
Hampshire County
Middlesex County
Norfolk County
Plymouth County
Suffolk County
Worcester County
Atlantic County
Bergen County
Burlington County
Camden County
Cape May County
Cumberland County
Essex County
Gloucester County
Hudson County
Hunterdon County
Mercer County
Middlesex County
Monmouth County
Morris County
Ocean County
Passaic County
Somerset County
Sussex County
Union County
Warren County
Filter by sourcetypes