Auburn will host two community conversations in July on residential zoning. City of Auburn graphic

AUBURN — As city officials work to finalize a new type of zoning, back-to-back community conversations are scheduled in July to get feedback from the public.

The meetings were scheduled this week after a lengthy Planning Board discussion Tuesday on a new type of zoning known as T-4.2B, which could eventually be applied to several residential neighborhoods.

The zone, based on one applied to the Court Street residential area this spring, is intended to encourage new housing, mixed-use and infill development in residential areas. Infill development is the process of developing vacant or underused parcels within existing urban areas that are already largely developed. But, the process has been met with fierce opposition from residents concerned that the changes will alter the character of historically single-family neighborhoods.

The proposed T-4.2B zone attempts to address previous public concern by limiting the types and sizes of businesses allowed. The zoning wouldn’t allow marijuana businesses, drive-thru businesses or restaurants, or other retail over a certain size.

However, it was clear Tuesday that a quick turnaround sought by the City Council to create the new zoning created consternation among residents.

Several people speaking during public comment said the city appeared to be rushing to approve the new zoning and apply it to several neighborhoods after just approving a similar zoning this spring. The process is also unfolding at the same time as a petition effort seeks to repeal it.


Mayor Jason Levesque said Friday that it was clear from Tuesday’s public hearing that residents “just want to be heard more.”

“It’s my job to take the time and make sure everyone is heard,” he said, adding that he stands by the process so far.

The public meetings will take place Tuesday, July 12, at Walton Elementary School at 92 Mary Carroll St. and Wednesday, July 13, at Fairview Elementary School at 397 Minot Ave. Both will begin at 5:30 p.m.

According to Levesque, there will be a 20-minute presentation on the history of Auburn zones, as well as “the process of reforming them and the desired outcomes.” It will be followed by a question and answer period where suggestions can be made.

On Monday, the City Council will likely finalize the new zoning type after the Planning Board suggested a few changes this week. However, the first reading on adopting and applying the T-4.2B zoning to the Court Street neighborhood will not likely take place until July 18.

It would not go into effect until five days after its potential approval at a second reading in August.

If approved, officials would not likely take up extending the zoning into four more proposed neighborhoods until late August or early September, Levesque said.

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