Wareham Village rezoning to be directed to further study at May 8 Town Meeting

May 3, 2021

The Wareham Redevelopment Authority voted at their April 29 meeting to ask that the rezoning of Wareham Village be directed to further study at the May 8 Town Meeting.

The rezoning has been in the works since summer 2020, and was spearheaded by Wareham Redevelopment Authority member Richard Swenson.

The changes are meant to foster redevelopment of the village while preserving its character and encouraging small business uses through mixed-use zoning.

Mixed use zoning allows a variety of uses, including retail, residential, office, entertainment, and culture to fit together in a single environment. Outdoor space including plazas and parks are also incorporated.

Members of the committee, along with Town Planner Ken Buckland and Town Administrator Derek Sullivan, said that while they are eager to see the changes made, now might not be the best time to bring the proposal before the public. Following the dramatic defeat of the Notos Group’s proposed Hospitality, Recreation, and Entertainment District, many voters are suspicious of other zoning changes, the committee members said.

“There is a lot of anti-change sentiment in the air right now, and I think there’s also a lot of mistrust about what’s going on,” Swenson said.

The committee decided that it would be best to direct the zoning for further study, which would give officials more time to conduct community outreach and make sure voters are well-informed about the proposal.

Unlike the Notos Group’s proposed district, the Wareham Village rezoning was developed by town officials, not at the behest of a developer. Town Planner Ken Buckland said at a past Planning Board meeting that the proposal was developed by the Redevelopment Authority based on bylaws that have been successful in other towns, the town’s Economic Development Strategy, and a report from the Urban Land Institute focused on revitalizing Main Street. 

The committee plans to host workshops about the proposal to educate voters ahead of a vote at a future Town Meeting.