"Everybody acknowledges that the zoning needs to be modernized," said Brian Barber, principal with Community Preservation Associates in Arlington, whose firm initiated the information-gathering process several weeks ago after being hired as consultants in January.During the recent meeting with Hartnett, Chief Building Inspector Joseph Biszko and Zoning Board Chairman Arthur DeAscentis, Barber said they addressed numerous issues within the nine required elements of a master plan update.
They included land use and implementation for zoning, Barber
said, giving examples of where the codes remain antiquated.
He'd liked to see mixed uses in buildings and areas to use a lost tradition of combining residential and commercial projects because Fall River has the structures to support that and developers can market those projects in the right situations.
"The ordinance needs to do that," Barber
The city also needs to "allow more conditions by right," he
Home occupation regulations in prescribed districts might by one example, while the paper-thin manual of zoning regulations "is silent" on basic uses like in-law apartments.
Another improvement example, he
said, would be if a homeowner shows hardship to add a ramp for a wheelchair-bound occupant.The building inspector could be given discretion to issue a permit with proof of medical documentation, in lieu of appearing before the Zoning Board.
Barber's contract stipulates holding five public meetings during the approximately 15-month master plan process, soliciting input from citizens and neighborhood groups, as well as officials.The first is tentatively slated for the end of June.Completing the master plan, which serves as a guide to zoning, is a lengthy process, Barber said.
It also involves "early action" recommendations that could be done in a few months.
"The question is, can you put together the political process to get it done?"Barber