National Chains

Another question I always get asked is can the Town of Bolton ban National Chains. The answer is no. Just like you can’t ban adult entertainment uses. However, a town can put in place some restrictions that protect a town. The Planning Board has done this by creating Design Guidelines which were adopted at the 2011 Town Meeting. The Goal of Design Guidelines is so that new buildings and renovations be of a design similar to or compatible with traditional architecture in the Town of Bolton in terms of scale, massing, roof shape, spacing and exterior materials. the design standards are intended to promote quality development consistent with the Town’s sense of history, human scale and pedestrian-oriented village character. A Design Advisory Team was appointed by the Planning Board to review commercial projects in Bolton.

The Town also has in place a ban on drive thru restaurants. Another protection the Planning Board would like to put in place is a ban on fast food restaurants. This is on the Town Meeting Warrant as Articles 24 & 25 for the May 2012 Town Meeting. The Planning Board has also created some additional restrictions on uses in the proposed Village Overlay District that go above and beyond the prohibited uses under the current bylaws: Research and Development offices or establishments or research laboratories and manufacturing enterprises, adult use establishments, laundry and onsite dry cleaners, fast food restaurants, automotive repair shops or dealerships, car washes, bowling alleys, discotheques or dance halls.

In addition to the uses permitted under the current bylaw the Village Overlay also permits a mix of uses (residential and business), live and work spaces, assisted living units, retail and service establishments, business or professional offices, medical offices, medical and dental clinics, bed and breakfasts, inns, restaurants, and other establishments serving food (but excluding Fast Food Restaurants), banks, convenience stores. It may include drive-up facilities for banks, pharmacies and retails and services uses but not for food establishments.

It also allows for food to be consumed outdoors in landscaped terraces, designed for dining purposes which is currently not allowed in the business district.  The two images below are from a development in Lincoln. The outdoor eating areas would not be allowed under Bolton’s current zoning in the Business district. It would however, be allowed under the proposed village overlay district.

I thought I would share with you some National Chains conforming to Towns that have design guidelines in place. I am not promoting chains or suggesting that they come to Bolton. I am only pointing out that if a national chain really wants to be located in a town they will conform.

Harvard MA – Dunkin Donuts and Baskin Robbins
Harvard Ma
Wayland CVS
Westborough Dunkin Donuts (only sign visable)
Westborough Dunkin Donuts with professional office space on second floor
Berlin Ma – Dunkin Donuts and Shell Gas Station
Berlin Ma signage

Berlin (rear view of project

Freeport Maine – Note the arches in the window of the first building shown

Concord Ma – Starbucks with laundry Ma
Concord Ma Dunkin Donuts
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About Southborough Town Planner

I am the Town Planner for the Town of Southborough MA
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2 Responses to National Chains

  1. B.J. Herbison says:

    Is “Fast Food Restaurant” well enough defined that the proposed ban won’t cause trouble? Would the ban prevent an ice cream stand because the cones are served before the ice cream melts? Would a McDonalds be allowed if the food was delivered to the table instead of being passed to a customer over the counter?

    • Thank you for your comment. Ice cream is an allowed use and is included in the definition. Prior to the adoption of the ban on fast food, Bolton already had in place a ban on drive thrus for restaurants. Fast food is allowed as an ancillary use. For example Country Cupboard would be allowed to have a Subway inside because Subway is ancillary to the primary use (a country store). There are plenty of fast food type restaurants that would meet the bylaw and be allowed in Bolton. Well known ones such as Starbucks, Panera Bread, and even Dunkin Donuts (check out the one in Concord) all serve on real plates.

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