FRAMINGHAM - Mayor Charlie Sisitsky and multiple City Councilors attended a community forum regarding the potential rezoning of the Nobscot area on October 21.
The informal pitch for development, led by the group J & Company, was brought before by the Framingham Planning Board back in January. The new B-4 zoning category could pave the way for mixed-used developments within a roughly 30 acres area.
Multiple members of the group Future of Nobscot were present at the meeting, which took place at the Christa McAuliffe Branch Library on Water Street. There, some residents echoed sentiments that have been aired for months regarding the potential developments. Future of Nobscot has cited worries regarding things such as public infrastructure, traffic, and environmental consequences as reasoning behind their opposition to rezoning the Nobscot plots. They also spoke about concerns that developers could change plans once zoning laws are altered, potentially allowing for a larger scope of work that what could be initially anticipated.
Among those in attendance who were not supportive of ideas presented at the current juncture were City Councilors George King, Christine Long, and Adam Steiner. While Steiner noted the importance of Sisitsky being there to listen to the community’s thoughts, he indicated that there have been no ideas related to rezoning Nobscot that have piqued his interest.
“I would like it to stay the way it is, I think it’s good” Steiner told residents.
“Whatever I can say legally, I’m willing to say. I’m not interested in what I’ve heard so far.”
King added that with the plots of land already acquired by a developer, something is likely to be built at some point down the line. He added that the important factor is mitigating what does go up in the Nobscot neighborhood in order to ensure that negative impacts are not being felt by the community.
“The idea that it’s going to stay as it is, it’s probably not realistic,” King continued, “so I think that’s where the vigilance has to be on this as we go forward.”
Sisitsky, meanwhile, reiterated to the crowd multiple times that no official development plan has been brought before him. With that, he maintained that he had no formal stance on the matter while adding that he wants to be open with the community on the matter.
“The land is privately owned—everybody has a right to develop their land,” Sisitsky said.
“We have an obligation to keep an open mind of what we’d like to see there, and I think we have an obligation to at least give any land owner an opportunity to make a legitimate proposal and go through the process before we stamp it down and say ‘No.’”
Candidate for the District 2 City Council seat Sean Silk was also at the meeting. He asked if there was any possibility that the city could buy the Nobscot land in question, especially following further developments for a new community center and school on the city’s south side. King pointed out that any group of citizens, including Future of Nobscot, can create a proposition for projects to be funded through the state’s Community Preservation Act.
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