The town’s planning board will open a public hearing Monday night on a comprehensive rewrite of the town’s zoning ordinances and map.
BRAINTREE — At Loco’s Burritos on Washington Street in South Braintree Square, the proposed overhaul of the town’s zoning ordinances and maps is such a controversial topic that owner Bob Muccini is conducting a straw poll on the issue.
“My customers are dead set against it. My customers are furious about it,” Muccini said.
And while the number of votes is relatively small so far, 8-1 against as of Thursday morning, Muccini said the display is starting a lot of conversations.
At 7 p.m. Monday in the town hall auditorium, the planning board will open a public hearing on the proposed comprehensive revision of the town’s zoning. The board will make a recommendation on the plan to the town council. A two-thirds majority vote is needed to approve it.
The 160-page comprehensive proposal does not include the so-called rezoning under the state’s smart growth statute, Chapter 40R, which allows dense residential or mixed use districts in areas around public transit — in this case, the Braintree MBTA station. The rezoning would allow 445 housing units, with at least 20 percent set aside as affordable.
Mayor Joseph Sullivan said smart growth rezoning was always going to be separate from the overall town rezoning plan. “We’re focusing on the comprehensive rewrite.”
The smart growth proposal was discussed at a planning board meeting last month. The plan needs state approval and Sullivan said no application for that approval has been filed.
At least two Facebook groups have been set up by opponents to the proposal.
The town has been working on the rezoning proposal for the past three years with consultants the Horsley Whitten Group, the first comprehensive update of the town’s zoning since 1970. It is intended to make the town’s zoning requirements easier to follow and enforce, respond to current development trends, and keep as close as possible to existing zoning districts. It also creates some new zoning districts.
“This is not an all-or-nothing proposal,” Sullivan said. “Our goal here is to manage growth and to do it on our terms.”
He said the plan would help strengthen neighborhoods by limiting houses to 2½ stories, basing the size of homes on a ratio of total floor area to lot size and implementing new requirements for street frontage to eliminate development of house-lots that are too narrow at the street. It also increases the town’s stock of conservation land. A proposal to allow six-story buildings in the town’s highway business areas has been modified to require a special permit for buildings above four stories in those areas, a change made based on comments from residents.
The mayor said he believes the planning board spent months on a “detailed, thoughtful” review of the proposal.
Sullivan said at least 90 percent of the property owners in town have received notices of Monday’s meeting because of the potential effect of the changes, and his office has logged hundreds of calls on the proposal. “The majority of people will not see any impact at all,” he said.
The mayor said the region is facing a housing shortage, which limits housing options for young people and senior citizens alike.
“Braintree alone will not be able to solve this problem for our region, but we can do our part for our current residents and for those desirous to come to our town,” Sullivan wrote in his “Braintree Blue” newsletter published on Thursday.
Muccini, who lives on Pond Street, said while he thinks the town does need to look at its zoning, he isn’t in favor of smart growth districts.
“Why does Braintree need to solve Boston’s housing shortage,” he said.
The proposal has drawn opposition over the course of four community meetings held by the planning and community development department since October. Critics say it would allow developments of increased density, increasing the town’s traffic problems and boosting school enrollment.
“It’s just too much all at once,” said Kelly Moore, president of the North Braintree Civic Association, a critic of the plan.
He compared the impact of the proposed zoning change to throwing a rock in a pond.
“The ripples go in all directions and it effects everything,” Moore said.
District 1 Town Councilor Charles Kokoros said at a meeting last month he opposes any new multi-family developments in town.
At-Large Councilor Sean Powers said the town should update its master plan, which was completed in 1998, before changing the town’s zoning.
“We should be planning first and have our zoning ordinances help with our planning, not the other way around,” Powers wrote on Facebook.
The town council on Tuesday night took the unusual step of voting to table a generally routine motion to refer the zoning proposal to committee. Councilors said the action could wait until after the planning board makes its recommendation.
Opponents of zoning changes say they plan to demonstrate outside of town hall starting at 5:30 p.m. Monday.
More information on the plan is available at braintreezoning.com