Zoning Bylaw Amendments for November 2016

On February 22, 2016, the CPDC held a Zoning Workshop to gather feedback on priorities for Zoning Amendments for November 2016 Subsequent Town Meeting. In March 2016, the CPDC established Working Groups to prepare draft edits to sections of the Zoning Bylaw that were deemed priorities.

The CPDC gave this update to Town Meeting in April 2016. (same as image to the right)



On Monday, August 22nd, at 9:00PM in the Selectmen's Room at Town Hall, the CPDC will continue the Public Hearing on the Sign Bylaw.
[The Public Hearing was opened on Monday, August 8th at 7:30PM.]

Why is the Town recodifying the Sign Bylaw?
In early 2016, the Town received feedback from Town Counsel that the Sign Bylaw is unconstitutional based on the 2015 Supreme Court decision in Reed v Town of Gilbert, 135 S.Ct.2218. In sum, the Court ruled that regulating a sign based on its content or function is unconstitutional because doing so equates to government regulation of speech. Many of the provisions of Reading's Zoning Bylaw governing signs are content-based: they attempt to regulate signs based on their communicative content. Therefore, the Zoning Bylaw provisions governing signs, if challenged in court, would almost certainly be struck down as unconstitutional. Town Counsel advised the Town to recodify the Sign Bylaw to make the language constitutional; the Sign Bylaw cannot regulate signs based on content. This became a top priority for the CPDC, and they announced it at Town Meeting in April, at the June 21st Board of Selectmen meeting, and to the business community on June 28th. It was also discussed at many regularly scheduled CPDC meetings throughout 2016, and at the August 8th Public Hearing.

Goal of Recodification: to bring the language of the Sign Bylaw into conformance with the Supreme Court ruling without substantially changing any of the regulations.
[Substantive changes to sign regulations will be considered at a future Town Meeting.]

The Sign Working Group held Open Public Meetings on March 28th, April 19th, May 3rd, May 16th and June 14th to prepare draft edits to the Sign Bylaw based on continuous feedback from Town Counsel. The Sign Working Group met on August 16th at 6:00 PM to finalize a draft for review on August 22nd:

On August 22nd, the CPDC will continue the Public Hearing on Accessory Buildings & Structures.
[The Public Hearing was opened on July 11th and continued on August 8th.]

On August 8th, the CPDC voted to put the following proposed ZBL Amendments on the November Town Meeting Warrant:

*Versions: Existing Bylaw, Track Changes, Bold & Cross-Out, Clean Proposed

The CPDC discussed 1st Drafts of the proposed ZBL Amendments on May 9, 2016.
The CPDC discussed 2nd Drafts at their meeting on June 6, 2016.
The CPDC discussed 3rd Drafts at their meeting on June 20, 2016.

On June 21, 2016, the CPDC presented an update of progress to the Board of Selectmen, and received feedback regarding priorities for November 2016 Town Meeting. Notably, the CPDC and BOS agreed that more time and public vetting are needed before any changes to downtown zoning are proposed. It is anticipated that downtown zoning changes (which could include an expansion of the existing 40R Downtown Smart Growth District) will be proposed for April 2017 Town Meeting.

On June 28, 2016, the CPDC held an event with the business community at the Reading Cooperative Bank to receive feedback on proposed zoning.

Site Plan Review - Proposed Edits - 1st Draft
Site Plan Review - Proposed Edits - 2nd Draft
Site Plan Review - Proposed Edits - 3rd Draft

Minor Amendments - Proposed Edits - 1st Draft
Minor Amendments - Proposed Edits - 2nd Draft
Minor Amendments - Proposed Edits - 3rd Draft

In addition, on May 9th, the CPDC reviewed the feedback received at the April 11, 2016 Downtown Zoning Workshop: 40R Expansion / Downtown Rezoning

This is the proposed Schedule for Public Hearings on Zoning Bylaw Amendments for November Town Meeting - Updated May 19, 2016