Westborough, Massachusetts

The Town of Westborough, population 18,000, surrounds the intersection of major highways 29 miles west of Boston. Factories here once manufactured goods like straw hats, boots and sleighs. With its favorable location on the edge of the Boston metro area, Westborough is now better known as a regional office center and a producer of computers and telecommunications equipment.

Westborough uses TDR to concentrate development near public transportation and preserve open space, like the wooded areas surrounding Lake Chauncy.

Westborough uses TDR in its Transit-Oriented Village (T-OV) district. The T-OV is intended to encourage smaller, affordable dwelling units on currently-underdeveloped properties in the Mixed Use Industrial zone near commercial areas and/or public transportation while also preserving open space. Applications for a T-OV are approved by special permit and are subject to design review as well as other development requirements unless the Planning Board finds that waiver or modification of these requirements would further the purpose of the district without a detrimental effect on health, safety and welfare.

Sending sites must have valuable natural features or benefit the Town as permanent open space. For each acre of preserved land at a sending site in a single-family residential zone, the applicant receives ten bonus dwelling units in a multi-family residential project. For each acre of preserved land at a sending site in a zone other than single-family residential, the applicant receives five bonus dwelling units in a multi-family residential project. The maximum density is four units per acre when TDR is not used. The maximum density is 14 units per acre when TDR is used as long as the Planning Board’s finds that the project satisfies the goals of the district.

When developers apply for T-OV projects, they are required to submit an Area Concept Plan (ACP) for all property partly or totally within 300 feet of the subject site. An ACP shows all existing conditions in the area as well as future improvements that might improve the project’s satisfaction of district goals such as a bike path across a neighboring property. The Planning Board can require the applicant to make a good faith effort to accomplish identified off-site improvements but failure to accomplish these off-site improvements is not to be used as the sole reason for denying a project. Applicants are required to take past ACPs that affect their property into account when preparing their applications. This requirement is designed to encourage the integration of the proposed T-OV project into the surrounding neighborhood in furtherance of the village-character goals of the district.