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Lee planners recommend overlay zone around mill

LEE — The Planning Board has submitted an application for a Smart Growth Overlay District that would allow for residential and commercial development at the Eagle Mill site.

If accepted by the state and by district representatives at town meeting, the overlay district could pave the way for Mill Renaissance LLC’s planned $60 million to $70 million redevelopment project of the abandoned mill site and allow the town to better pursue grant money to replace its ancient downtown water line.

Members of the Select Board have indicated that a special town meeting is in the planning process, though no date has been set.

Under the regulations of Chapter 40R, a Massachusetts General Law under which the overlay district bylaw falls, the state encourages towns to develop new residential housing and commercial spaces. This is done by establishing overlay zoning districts, which, rather than changing established zoning regulations, allow for additional, mixed zoning in the area designated by the town – in this case the Eagle Mill site.

On Sept. 13, the planning board voted 4-to-zero, with one abstention from Peggy Biron,  in favor of submitting the 40R bylaw application to the state and the town. The bylaw will require a vote from the town representatives at a town meeting.

Pick up this week’s Record for more on this story.


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