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Town Meeting Voters Approve New Business District, Bulk Energy Purchase

May 08, 2015 12:12PM ● By Bill Gilman
Tewksbury voters gave their approval to continuing efforts to boost commercial growth and protect residential neighborhoods by approving the creation of a new business overlay district during Day 2 of the Annual Town Meeting, Wednesday at Tewksbury High School.
Voters approved an article which creates the Westside Neighborhood Business District in Woburn Street corridor. According to town officials, the new overlay district will reduce conflicts between the industrial zoned parcels and neighboring residential areas. It also "reorganizes allowed and special permitted uses to strengthen the town's discretionary powers over the uses that are likely to conflict with adjacent residential land uses."
The language contained in the creation of the district meshes with a study of the area conducted in 2011 by the Northern Middlesex Council of Governments, which recommended the zoning changes. According to the study, the changes will not only protect the neighborhoods from unwanted commercial projects but will also add support services to meet the needs of office and industrial uses.
Voters also approved an article which may result in lower electric bills for both residential and commercial customers of National Grid. The article allows the town to enter into a "bulk purchasing" agreement on behalf of all Tewksbury customers. Bulk purchasing results in lower rates for all users.
According to Town Manager Richard Montuori, recently bills from National Grid show the town pays between 7.6 and 8.3 cents per kilowatt for electricity for its buildings, while residents are paying 13 to 17 cents per kilowatt.
However, there is an "out" for any commercial or residential customers not wishing to be part of the purchasing. They will need to fill out an available "opt out" form.
While voters said "Yes" to almost every article on the Town Meeting warrant, they saved a resounding "No" to one of the final articles.
By a vote of 33-13, voters shot down article 45, which would have added properties at 155 East St. and 145 East St. to the Community Village Overlay District. Such a change would have allowed for mixed use re-development of the properties, which could include commercial and multi-family residential construction.
The article had been brought by citizens' petition. 155 East St. is presently owned by JDB Realty Trust. 145 East St. is presently owned by Phillip and Mary Zerofski.
Day 2 of the Town Meeting was preceded by a Special Town Meeting with seven articles on the warrant. Voters approved all seven of the articles. These included an article to facilitate a land swap with the state for the expansion of the East Street Cemetery, an article approving an easement for National Grid needed to complete the Town Hall renovations and an article to use $100,000 from the Stabilization Fund to pay for the next three-year property re-valuation.

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