Enfield Board Approves Route 4 Corridor Proposal for Ballot

Enfield — A proposal to spur more development along the Route 4 corridor east of Baltic Street was unanimously endorsed by the Planning Board following a public hearing this week, and the zoning changes will now go to Town Meeting voters in March for approval.

The proposal is “the most important thing happening in Enfield,” John Kluge, the Selectboard representative on the Enfield Planning Board, said at the hearing Wednesday night, which was attended by nine residents. The Route 4 zoning district proposal calls for alterations to the current land use regulations between Baltic Street and the Canaan town line.

If passed at Town Meeting, the proposal would allow for more commercial and industrial uses to maximize the benefits of additional development while protecting traffic flow on Route 4.

A related measure would ease parking requirements throughout town.

Among the zoning requirements are standards for signage, landscaping, parking, traffic flow and building dimensions.

To minimize traffic congestion along the Route 4 corridor, businesses will be required to have connecting parking lots, where feasible. Officials at the hearing Wednesday night clarified that the side access between businesses will not be considered “roads,” but “access points.”

The zoning change also would reduce the minimum lot size from a half-acre — or almost 22,000 square feet — to 15,000 square feet. To reduce runoff and protect Enfield’s water resources, no more than 70 percent of a lot in the district could be covered by paved surfaces.

The zoning changes would also require buildings under 10,000 square feet to have a pitched roof for aesthetic reasons and change the maximum building footprint to 40,000 square feet.

After residents at the hearing expressed concerns about the lack of windows on prospective buildings, some minimum requirements to include windows were also added for buildings in the proposed district.

Among the requirements for parking is one parking space for every unit in multi-family housing. Parking would be restricted in front of buildings and encouraged to be placed beside or behind businesses.

To promote more clustered development, the zoning change would expand density limits from 2 to 12 units per acre.

Enfield officials called the type of zoning they are working on “form zoning,” where the concern is mostly about appearance and function, rather than type of use. Thus they are encouraging mixed-use buildings, which might include a business on the first floor, and residences on upper floors.

“The Town Meeting vote can go either way,” said Nathan Miller, acting town planner. “But with both public hearings we have had, there hasn’t been anyone to stand up and say, ‘I think what you are doing is outright wrong.’ ”