What do we know right now about our path forward?

We are proposing small-scale multi-family housing, to be allowed by-right in a new district made up of our existing multi-family and single-family zones, encircling downtown with gentle density.

We believe our proposal is a moderate proposal that splits the difference between the minimum requirements and transformative change. Reminder: there are a range of views on housing in Reading. 

The primary challenge for our district will be in achieving the 15 unit/acre density requirement while maintaining building dimensions similar to single-family homes. 

Our survey results provided staff with initial direction as to residents' preferences on multi-family housing. Our survey results were clear that multi-family should be near transit / commercial / pedestrian-friendly areas. This directed staff to focus the full acreage we are required to zone for to be within or near the 1/2 mile radius from the train depot. 

Respondents preferred:

  • Multi-family buildings with fewer units 
  • Smaller buildings with fewer stories
  • More “house-like” architectural options 

Thus, the exterior form of our zoning will follow dimensional controls (setbacks, max lot coverage, etc.) similar to what currently exists now in our single-family districts. The difference would be the number of units one could put in the interior of the building. 

Equal distribution across the 1/2 mile area is important for equal distribution of future service needs (school enrollment, infrastructure) to come from possible construction.

At our Workshop on 10/11 we worked through dimensional controls like setbacks, lot coverage, and discussed parking requirements in an interactive exercise. Our takeaways from our discussions with attendees were:

  • Slightly reducing required setbacks from our current S-15 minimums was acceptable
  • Increasing minimum lot coverage from 25% up to 30% was acceptable
  • Reducing minimum parking requirements down to 1.25 spaces required per unit was acceptable

Our preliminary proposal included two map options and details on our proposed dimensional controls. We received feedback at our 11/8 event on our preliminary proposal and via public comments and meetings with residents. We will be revising our proposal accordingly as we finalize it ahead of the public hearings. 

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1. What is MBTA Communities?
2. What does this mean for Reading specifically?
3. How did the state calculate our requirements?
4. Do we currently comply with the law?
5. Why should we comply?
6. What is the timeline for compliance?
7. Where are we in the process?
8. What do we know right now about our path forward?
9. What happens after the new zoning is adopted by Town Meeting?
10. General Zoning Considerations & Definitions
11. Helpful Studies and Links
12. Local Data, Resources, and Documents