The Bristol Board of Planning and Commission held a public hearing on Wednesday, Jan. 31 to gain the public’s perspective on the Route 6 Corridor Study.
City Planner Robert Flanagan said that Bristol has been involved in this project for two years. The city has been working with consulting firm Fitzgerald and Halliday, Inc.
The study breaks down Route 6 into three segments: Terryville Avenue, which stretches from Clark Road to the railway overpass; the Downtown Gateway, which extends from the railway overpass to Maple Street; and Farmington Avenue, which begins at Maple Avenue and runs until Camp Street at the Farmington town line. This is approximately 5.5 miles, from the Plymouth town line to the Farmington town line.
Resident Craig Minor called the study “very comprehensive” and “very readable.” He said he was impressed by how much detail went into allocating work to specific departments in the City.
Overall, most of those gathered were impressed by the study. But the area that garnered the most concern was that of zoning.
Resident Larry Tallman has lived on the Farmington Avenue segment for close to 35 years. “This plan is a wonderful thing on paper,” he said. “It has some issues where you’re going to change the zoning unconditionally, in my area, some of them to mixed use: that would be wrong.”
Tallman’s issue doesn’t lie distinctly with the possible zoning change, but rather with the idea that zoning could be changed without following the procedure put forth in the zoning regulations.
Attorney Tim Furey noted his issue lies with the recommendation to make different levels of zoning, saying that many of his clients have bought land along the corridor that had been zoned as residential or general business zones. Furey explained that many of his clients bought BG (general business) zoned land parcels with the intent to either start a business immediately or to have the possibility in the future.
“Part of what this plan would do,” said Furey, “is change the zoning of that, bring it down a notch, take away some of the things they could apply for now.” Furey also said that in some instances, some of his clients could no longer consider some of their future projects, should the zoning change.
Page 48 of the study reads; “Consequently, the land use typologies are not zoning designations. Rather, a variety of zoning approaches can be used to achieve the typologies shown in the scenario. Pursuit of the scenario is also not intended to replace existing land uses, but to frame a process that allows the change that does occur to be of a character and design that meets the community’s vision.”
The board voted to postpone final judgment on the study. Their next meeting is slated to be on Feb. 28. The Route 6 Corridor Study is available online through the city’s website.