Downtown Study

Zoning Articles & the Plan

Included in the warrant for the May 2009 Annual Town Meeting are six proposed zoning articles that are a result of the Downtown Study. Please read the section below for more information and background on the Downtown Study.

Please use the links below to review the materials associated with the proposed articles as well as the full Downtown Study Report. (Please be patient while they open, it can take up to several minutes depending on the size of the file.)

Additional Information

Several years ago, in 2005, Needham embarked on a project that follows up on its Community Development Plan completed in February 2004. This project, the Downtown Study, is an endeavor to develop a comprehensive plan for the future of the Needham Center commercial area comprising the Center Business district, the Chestnut Street Business district and the Business district along Highland Avenue. The plan will address the overall objectives of fostering the economic development of Needham Center as a mixed-use local downtown shopping district, increasing housing opportunities, improving aesthetics and the pedestrian environment, and improving parking and traffic conditions. The goal of the Downtown Study planning effort is to create a mixed-use local downtown shopping district consistent with smart growth and transit oriented development principles. The plan will articulate Needham's vision for its Center area and identify the steps necessary to achieve it. The study area is located within a ¼ mile radius of two train stations and comprises three dense business districts. The zoning changes resulting from the study will allow redevelopment of those three zoning districts in part or in totality as transit-oriented mixed-use nodes.

Right from the beginning, this process involved support from both the private and public sectors. Funding for the $80,000 study came from a $30,000 state grant, $25,000 raised through local business contributions, and $25,000 raised by Town Meeting appropriation. Additionally, the community has received commitments from at least two developers to utilize its provisions once the new zoning articles are adopted at Town Meeting. The planning effort focuses around six themes as follows: 1) sense of place; 2) affordable housing; 3) streetscape and built form; 4) traffic; 5) parking; and 6) retail. Because of the comprehensive nature of the study, it was deemed important to have a representative voice of the Town Center. The Town of Needham, through the Planning Board, in September of 2005 created the Downtown Study Committee consisting of property owners from the affected zoning districts, representatives of the abutting residential neighborhoods, members of the Planning Board, the Board of Selectmen, the Needham Housing Authority, the Needham Business Association, the Economic Development Advisory Committee, Town business owners and Town residents. The Planning Director, the Assistant Planner, the Economic Development Specialist and the Town Manager serve as staff to the Committee.

The Committee has worked closely with the consultants throughout the project period. To date, we have held three public workshops. At the first workshop, on December 11, 2006 the community participants established goals for the individual districts in the Study. The second workshop was held half a year later on June 25, 2007. The community was presented with conceptual plans for the districts consistent with the previously articulated goals.