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Massachusetts beach town plans large-scale face lift

The recession and the passage of time have left many towns throughout the United States shells of their former selves. This is especially true for a town like Hull, Massachusetts, which many of our readers are likely familiar with. The town that runs along Nantasket Beach just south of Boston is a sad scene of vacant properties and closed stores during the winter months when there is no beach traffic.

Town officials are starting discussions of an aggressive redevelopment plan that will involve extensive zoning changes to attract more people to the town. The project could lead to more purchases of residential real estate and more people enjoying the town's features and proximity to the ocean year-round.

The redevelopment plan, which town officials and business leaders want to put to a vote before local residents, would involve zoning changes to 64 acres in the town. Part of the problem is that the large parcel of land is subject to seven different zoning districts. The proposal would unify the entire area under one set of zoning laws that would regulate what type of buildings could be built and what their purposes would be.

City officials see a mixed-use district of new housing, retail stores and offices. Buildings could be up to five stories tall. Year-round residents have let their concerns be known about traffic and parking concerns and changes to the town's character. The plan has been revised to ease people's concerns. More public hearings are scheduled.

When municipalities plan projects of this magnitude, there are sure to be complaints from concerned citizens. It's important to remember that citizens have a right to have their complaints addressed, but that towns also can advocate for their views. Knowing or hiring someone who knows the intricacies of local zoning laws is important.

Source: Patriot Ledger, "Hull officials to propose plan to revitalize Nantasket Beach," Neal Simpson, Jan. 28, 2013

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