Preserve and Enhance Town Character

Goal 1: Preserve and Enhance Town Character

We feel strongly about preserving and enhancing what makes Acton special and unique, including its rural characteristics, historic buildings and landscapes, and its village centers.

Strengthen planning tools to manage growth pro-actively.

Objective 1.1: Strengthen planning tools to manage growth pro-actively.

Roadmap for Guiding Growth

Strategy 1.1.1: Roadmap for Guiding Growth

Use the Roadmap, affirmed at the June 23 2011 public meeting, to guide Acton's planning.

Concentrate growth

Action Item 1.1.1.1: Concentrate growth

Guide as much as possible of any future growth to key town centers, to mixed use infill and redevelopment.1 2
This includes a focus on
  • Transforming new and redeveloped commercial space to fit each village or town center's character.
  • Emphasizing walking, biking, and public transportation
  • Continuing open space acquisition/protection
  • 1. For a more complete write-up of the results of the June 23 workshop see https://doc.acton-ma.gov/dsweb/Get/Document-33530/...
  • 2. See the links under See Also for examples of how to increase the sustainability of these already concentrated areas and avoid risks to air and water quality
Narrative: 
Priority: 
Highest
Timing: 
New Sustained Action (start by 2015 and continue through 2030)
Primary Inventory Element: 
Land Use
Capital?: 
Yes
Staffing?: 
Yes
Planning?: 
Yes
Lead Owner: 
Planning Department<i> </i>
Regulatory?: 
Yes
Other Owners: 
Acton Community Housing Corporation
Acton Housing Authority
Acton Water District
Board of Health
Building Department
Citizens and citizen groups
Council on Aging
Commission on Disabilities
Community Preservation Committee
Design Review Board
Economic Development Committee
Economic Development Officer
Engineering Department
Finance Committee
Finance Department
Fire Department
Green Advisory Board
Health Department
Highway Department
Historical Commission
Historic District Commission
Manager Department
Municipal Properties
Natural Resources Department
Open Space Committee
Planning Board
Recreation Commission
Recreation Department
School Committees
Selectmen
Sidewalk Committee
South Acton Train Station Advisory Committee
Transportation Advisory Committee
Tree Warden
Water Resources Advisory Committee
Ripe?: 
No

Revise planning process

Strategy 1.1.2: Revise planning process

Review and revise the Town’s bylaws and planning process to support the 2020 Plan goals.

Review zoning in light of plan goals and buildout potential

Action Item 1.1.2.1: Review zoning in light of plan goals and buildout potential

Carefully review all current zoning and its build-out potential to insure that zoning supports the goals articulated in the master plan. Aim to simplify the zoning code to insure clarity of intent and to support the regulatory review process.
Priority: 
Highest
Timing: 
Short-Term (complete by 2015)
Primary Inventory Element: 
Land Use
Staffing?: 
Yes
Regulatory?: 
Yes
Lead Owner: 
Planning Department<i> </i>
Other Owners: 
Acton Community Housing Corporation
Design Review Board
Economic Development Committee
Economic Development Officer
Engineering Department
Health Department
Planning Board
Tree Warden
Zoning Board of Appeals

New development bylaws

Action Item 1.1.2.2: New development bylaws

Research further use of by-laws beyond those already in place (e.g. transfer of development rights, impact fees to include effects on air and water quality, etc.)
Timing: 
Short-Term (complete by 2015)
Primary Inventory Element: 
Land Use
Staffing?: 
Yes
Lead Owner: 
Planning Department<i> </i>
Regulatory?: 
Yes
Other Owners: 
Economic Development Committee
Economic Development Officer
Finance Committee
Finance Department
Green Advisory Board
Manager Department
Planning Board
Selectmen
Town Meeting?: 
Yes

Regional cooperation on development issues

Action Item 1.1.2.3: Regional cooperation on development issues

Encourage continued regional cooperation; consider creating more formal structures for collaborating with neighboring towns to address common issues (including affordable housing developments, transportation, open space protection, etc.)
Priority: 
2nd Highest
Timing: 
Medium-Term (complete by 2020)
Primary Inventory Element: 
Land Use
Other Inventory Elements: 
Population and Housing
Open Space
Lead Owner: 
Manager Department<i> </i>
Management?: 
Yes
Other Owners: 
Acton Community Housing Corporation
Acton Water District
Health Department
Open Space Committee
Planning Board
Planning Department
Selectmen

Legislation to increase local control over development

Action Item 1.1.2.4: Legislation to increase local control over development

Support legislation that would increase the Town’s control over local land use decisions.1
  • 1. This could include modifications to Chapter 40A (Zoning Enabling Act) and Chapter 40B (Regional Planning including affordable housing) and support of legislation that adjusts the “Dover Amendment” provisions of the Zoning Act (which prohibits certain restrictions on daycare and other facilities) to give municipalities more control over their land use.
Timing: 
Long-Term (complete by 2030)
Primary Inventory Element: 
Land Use
Other Inventory Elements: 
Population and Housing
Regulatory?: 
Yes
Lead Owner: 
Selectmen<i> </i>
Other Owners: 
Acton Community Housing Corporation
Economic Development Committee
Planning Board
Zoning Board of Appeals
Influence?: 
Yes

Planning staff

Action Item 1.1.2.5: Planning staff

Add a full-time position to the Planning Department to assist with plans for villages and key centers, development review, and economic development. This position would also fulfill the role of Economic Development Officer (EDO).
Priority: 
Highest
Timing: 
Short-Term (complete by 2015)
Primary Inventory Element: 
Land Use
Staffing?: 
Yes
Other Inventory Elements: 
Economic Development
Lead Owner: 
Manager Department<i> </i>
Other Owners: 
Economic Development Committee
Finance Committee
Planning Department
Selectmen
Town Meeting?: 
Yes

Index of developable parcels

Action Item 1.1.2.6: Index of developable parcels

Prepare a database of developable parcels to better inform land use and economic development planning.
Timing: 
Short-Term (complete by 2015)
Primary Inventory Element: 
Land Use
Other Inventory Elements: 
Economic Development
Lead Owner: 
Planning Department<i> </i>
Other Owners: 
Assessors Department
Conservation Commission
Economic Development Committee
Economic Development Officer
Health Department
Open Space Committee

Develop a comprehensive site and design review process

Strategy 1.1.3: Develop a comprehensive site and design review process

Extend design guidelines

Action Item 1.1.3.1: Extend design guidelines

Further refine Acton’s Design Guidelines for Commercial Development1 and extend the guidelines to include large multifamily and village center mixed-use development2 3.
  • 1. See current at http://www.acton-ma.gov/DocumentView.aspx?DID=343
  • 2. Add incentives dependent on preserving character and compatibility with historic resources. Make guidelines specific to targeted growth centers and other areas of town to make residential and commercial development consistent with other 2020 Plan goals. Single and two-family residential would not be included in design review.
  • 3. Consider how design guidelines can encourage actions in support of preserving or remediating surface and groundwater and air quality, such as alternative energy, vegetated roofs, bioretention areas, etc.
Priority: 
2nd Highest
Timing: 
Short-Term (complete by 2015)
Capital?: 
No
Primary Inventory Element: 
Land Use
Other Inventory Elements: 
Economic Development
Cultural Resources
Staffing?: 
No
Planning?: 
Yes
Lead Owner: 
Design Review Board<i> </i>
Regulatory?: 
No
Other Owners: 
Acton Community Housing Corporation
Economic Development Committee
Historical Commission
Historic District Commission
Planning Board
Planning Department
Selectmen
Management?: 
No
Town Meeting?: 
Yes

Improve design review process

Action Item 1.1.3.2: Improve design review process

Consider ways to improve the design review process, defining the role of the Design Review Board (DRB), and enhancing the coordination with the Planning Board and Board of Selectmen, while reserving permit authority with these Boards as applicable. Improve coordination with Historic District Commission when appropriate. Implement improvements.1
  • 1. For special permits, expand and standardize the information required from developers, e.g., fiscal and traffic impacts of proposed development.
Priority: 
Highest
Timing: 
Short-Term (complete by 2015)
Primary Inventory Element: 
Land Use
Capital?: 
No
Other Inventory Elements: 
Population and Housing
Economic Development
Natural Resources
Cultural Resources
Open Space
Transportation
Sustainability
Staffing?: 
No
Planning?: 
No
Lead Owner: 
Selectmen<i> </i>
Regulatory?: 
Yes
Other Owners: 
Design Review Board
Economic Development Committee
Historic District Commission
Planning Board
Planning Department
Management?: 
No
Ripe?: 
No
Town Meeting?: 
Yes

Preserve and enhance key centers.

Objective 1.2: Preserve and enhance key centers.

Enhance Village Centers

Strategy 1.2.1: Enhance Village Centers

Key Centers Plan

Action Item 1.2.1.1: Key Centers Plan

To determine which villages should receive more concentrated growth and the amount and type of new development, complete a Key Centers Plan that includes the recognized villages and Kelley’s Corner. Part of the Key Centers Plan will be a Development Plan for Kelley's Corner, specifying needed infrastructure improvements and zoning changes.1 The Plan should include a review of the existing Village Plans and their outcomes to date, and identify the highest priority components for early implementation to help the Town realize the centers’ full potential as destinations.
  • 1. The Key Centers Plan will set priorities for new development and redevelopment in centers. The plan should consider Kelley’s Corner and the villages as a system, build on existing strengths in each, identify necessary aesthetic and functional improvements, assess capacity for density incentives, and prioritize and sequence which areas to work on first. This plan would include a quantitative analysis of a Transfer of Development Rights (TDR) system, to verify which incentives are most likely to create the desired changes. The Kelley’s Corner Development Plan will be part of the Key Centers Plan; it will provide the basis to proceed with zoning changes and infrastructure investments needed to begin the improvements at Kelley’s Corner and promote development and redevelopment of key parcels as soon as practicable.
Priority: 
Highest
Timing: 
Short-Term (complete by 2015)
Primary Inventory Element: 
Land Use
Other Inventory Elements: 
Population and Housing
Economic Development
Natural Resources
Cultural Resources
Open Space
Transportation
Sustainability
Planning?: 
Yes
Lead Owner: 
Planning Department<i> </i>
Other Owners: 
Design Review Board
Economic Development Committee
Economic Development Officer
Engineering Department
Health Department
Historical Commission
Historic District Commission
Open Space Committee
Planning Board
Recreation Department

Zoning to support Key Centers Plan

Action Item 1.2.1.2: Zoning to support Key Centers Plan

Develop and enact zoning, including Transfer of Development Rights, to guide growth through infill and redevelopment in and around existing centers in support of the Key Centers Plan, including the Development Plan for Kelley's Corner.1
  • 1. The zoning should be specific to each center and should specify minimum performance standards and density incentives for meeting additional criteria, including Transfer of Development Rights from areas the Town wishes to preserve. It should address both buildings and landscape/streetscape. Examples of achieving vitality, attractiveness, and walkability include:
    • Encourage activity by promoting a variety of uses at different times of day and night, such as grocery store, a variety of businesses, family restaurant, places for programmed events, pubs, movie house, etc.
    • Support walkability in the centers by providing sidewalks along the street and well-lit and landscaped pathways to buildings and within parking lots. Provide parking on street and in combined lots behind buildings
    • Encourage unique and fun window-shopping
    • Support locally owned shops; develop “buy local” campaign
    • Identify, seek, and support anchor with “pulling power”
    • Provide more on-street parking to support businesses and help slow down traffic
    • Plant flowers and trees to enhance village streets and contribute to traffic mitigation
    • Encourage our ethnic communities to contribute vitality through cultural events, celebration, food, etc.
Priority: 
Highest
Timing: 
Short-Term (complete by 2015)
Primary Inventory Element: 
Land Use
Other Inventory Elements: 
Population and Housing
Economic Development
Open Space
Regulatory?: 
Yes
Lead Owner: 
Planning Department<i> </i>
Other Owners: 
Conservation Commission
Design Review Board
Economic Development Committee
Economic Development Officer
Engineering Department
Health Department
Open Space Committee
Planning Board
Recreation Department
Selectmen
Transportation Advisory Committee
Tree Warden
Town Meeting?: 
Yes

Town's financial participation in key center development

Action Item 1.2.1.3: Town's financial participation in key center development

Explore the possible benefits and risks of the Town’s financial participation in the development of key centers, with the objectives of catalyzing desired development, increasing control over outcomes, and sharing the financial benefits. Financial participation could include the acquisition of developable parcels and/or the acquisition of development rights to be used in Transfer of Development Rights.
Priority: 
2nd Highest
Timing: 
Short-Term (complete by 2015)
Primary Inventory Element: 
Land Use
Capital?: 
Yes
Other Inventory Elements: 
Open Space
Planning?: 
Yes
Lead Owner: 
Selectmen<i> </i>
Other Owners: 
Economic Development Committee
Economic Development Officer
Finance Committee
Finance Department
Manager Department
Planning Board
Planning Department
Management?: 
Yes
Town Meeting?: 
Yes

Village-specific sidewalk guidelines

Action Item 1.2.1.4: Village-specific sidewalk guidelines

As part of the Key Centers Plan update the Sidewalk Design Guidelines to include village-specific design guidelines.
Priority: 
2nd Highest
Timing: 
Short-Term (complete by 2015)
Primary Inventory Element: 
Transportation
Planning?: 
Yes
Lead Owner: 
Sidewalk Committee<i> </i>
Other Owners: 
Design Review Board
Engineering Department
Planning Department
Selectmen

Encourage developer contributions of public space to town centers

Action Item 1.2.1.5: Encourage developer contributions of public space to town centers

Encourage developer contributions of land1 and/or construction of public realm improvements in Kelley’s Corner and village centers, e.g., small-scale “vest-pocket” parks that might include bioretention areas and rain gardens, playgrounds, and public seating areas.
  • 1. Priority should be given to parcels identified in the Acton Open Space and Recreation Plan.
Timing: 
Medium-Term (complete by 2020)
Primary Inventory Element: 
Open Space
Other Inventory Elements: 
Economic Development
Lead Owner: 
Selectmen<i> </i>
Other Owners: 
Conservation Commission
Design Review Board
Economic Development Committee
Economic Development Officer
Engineering Department
Open Space Committee
Planning Board
Planning Department
Recreation Commission
Recreation Department
Sidewalk Committee
Tree Warden

Strategic plan for commercial properties

Action Item 1.2.1.6: Strategic plan for commercial properties

Develop a Strategic Plan for Commercial Properties by developing an inventory of all such properties in terms of their existing and build out potential. Identify owners of multiple lots.
Timing: 
Short-Term (complete by 2015)
Primary Inventory Element: 
Economic Development
Other Inventory Elements: 
Land Use
Planning?: 
Yes
Lead Owner: 
Planning Department<i> </i>
Other Owners: 
Assessors Department
Economic Development Committee
Economic Development Officer
Health Department
Selectmen

Improve Kelley's Corner

Strategy 1.2.2: Improve Kelley's Corner

Redevelop Kelley's Corner

Action Item 1.2.2.1: Redevelop Kelley's Corner

Develop Kelley’s Corner (KC) into a mixed use town center and transportation hub. Prepare a Development Plan for Kelley’s Corner as part of the Key Centers Plan.1
  • 1. Based on this study:
    • Delineate areas that should receive development, infill, and redevelopment.
    • Determine desired density and type of use for these areas, e.g., wide range of shops and restaurants.
    • Prepare KC-specific design studies and design guidelines.
    • Create list of criteria to apply as incentives during special permit development review, e.g., proactive solutions for potential groundwater issues; provision by developers of outdoor seating; separating seating areas from sidewalk with plants, low fence, etc.
    • Consider Kelley’s Corner gateway opportunities, i.e., what the design of this area should communicate to visitors and citizens as they drive into town.
    • Plan how to resolve existing and potential stormwater issues in Kelley's corner
Priority: 
Highest
Timing: 
Short-Term (complete by 2015)
Capital?: 
Yes
Primary Inventory Element: 
Land Use
Other Inventory Elements: 
Population and Housing
Economic Development
Staffing?: 
Yes
Lead Owner: 
Planning Department<i> </i>
Other Owners: 
Acton Community Housing Corporation
Acton Housing Authority
Design Review Board
Economic Development Committee
Economic Development Officer
Engineering Department
Health Department
Historical Commission
Open Space Committee
Planning Board
Recreation Commission
Recreation Department
School Committees
Selectmen
Sidewalk Committee
Transportation Advisory Committee
Tree Warden
Town Meeting?: 
Yes

Concentrate town investments in Kelley's Corner

Action Item 1.2.2.2: Concentrate town investments in Kelley's Corner

Concentrate Town investments such as sidewalks, landscape and streetscape improvements and traffic calming in Kelley’s Corner to make it more pedestrian-friendly and to serve as a gateway.1
  • 1. Such investments include sidewalks, benches, signage, landscaping (for aesthetics and to mitigate runoff), etc.; encourage the provision of outdoor seating; separate seating areas from sidewalk with plants, low fence, etc.
Priority: 
Highest
Timing: 
Medium-Term (complete by 2020)
Capital?: 
Yes
Primary Inventory Element: 
Land Use
Other Inventory Elements: 
Natural Resources
Transportation
Facilities
Lead Owner: 
Selectmen<i> </i>
Other Owners: 
Design Review Board
Economic Development Committee
Engineering Department
Health Department
Planning Board
Planning Department
Sidewalk Committee
Transportation Advisory Committee
Tree Warden
Town Meeting?: 
Yes

Design studio or competition for Kelley's Corner

Action Item 1.2.2.3: Design studio or competition for Kelley's Corner

Collaborate with area universities to do a design studio that tests plans through design for their “place-making potential” and/or hold a design competition to develop an urban design vision for Kelley’s Corner. Utilize the results in the Development Plan for Kelley's Corner.
Timing: 
Short-Term (complete by 2015)
Primary Inventory Element: 
Land Use
Other Inventory Elements: 
Transportation
Planning?: 
Yes
Lead Owner: 
Planning Department<i> </i>
Other Owners: 
Design Review Board

Kelley's Corner Association

Action Item 1.2.2.4: Kelley's Corner Association

Support the development of an organization to revitalize Kelley’s Corner such as a business association that could in time become a Business Improvement District or Community Betterment Association. (These are different ways of allowing groups of contiguous businesses or other landowners to each pay for services and infrastructure improvements that benefit the entire location.)
Priority: 
Highest
Timing: 
Short-Term (complete by 2015)
Primary Inventory Element: 
Economic Development
Lead Owner: 
Citizens and citizen groups<i> </i>
Other Owners: 
Economic Development Committee
Economic Development Officer
Planning Department
Influence?: 
Yes
Ripe?: 
Yes

Improve West Acton Village Center while preserving its historic character.

Strategy 1.2.3: Improve West Acton Village Center while preserving its historic character.

West Acton ‒ Plan some growth

Action Item 1.2.3.1: West Acton ‒ Plan some growth

Consider designating West Acton Village (WAV) as a “key center” to which some growth is guided. This action step is a planning process focused on WAV that should consider the planning context provided by the Key Centers Plan.1 Prepare a design study and development plan for the village to provide the basis for zoning changes and infrastructure investments.2
  • 1. Use this planning process to ensure we understand what makes West Acton currently a successful village so that efforts to enhance it don’t threaten what contributes to its village identity and livability.
  • 2. Based on this study:
    • Delineate any areas that should receive development, infill, and redevelopment.
    • Include water and air quality considerations when delineating areas to be redeveloped/subject to infill, and include low impact development and advanced stormwater management in design guidelines.
    • Prepare WAV-specific design guidelines.
    • Create a list of criteria to apply as incentives during special permit development review.
    • Make necessary zoning changes and infrastructure improvements.
Priority: 
2nd Highest
Timing: 
Medium-Term (complete by 2020)
Primary Inventory Element: 
Land Use
Other Inventory Elements: 
Population and Housing
Economic Development
Natural Resources
Cultural Resources
Transportation
Facilities
Planning?: 
Yes
Lead Owner: 
Planning Department<i> </i>
Other Owners: 
Acton Community Housing Corporation
Acton Housing Authority
Economic Development Committee
Economic Development Officer
Engineering Department
Health Department
Historic District Commission
Planning Board
Selectmen
Transportation Advisory Committee
See Also: 

Concentrate investments in West Acton

Action Item 1.2.3.2: Concentrate investments in West Acton

As recommended in the Key Centers Plan and the development plan for West Acton Village, concentrate Town investments such as sidewalks, landscape and streetscape improvements, traffic calming, and wastewater treatment facilities in and around the village.1
  • 1. Sewer extension and package wastewater treatment plants are options to consider. This action step can begin in the medium term (after Kelley's Corner investments) but may not be completed until the long term.
Priority: 
2nd Highest
Timing: 
Long-Term (complete by 2030)
Capital?: 
Yes
Primary Inventory Element: 
Land Use
Other Inventory Elements: 
Transportation
Facilities
Lead Owner: 
Selectmen<i> </i>
Other Owners: 
Acton Housing Authority
Economic Development Committee
Economic Development Officer
Engineering Department
Finance Committee
Health Department
Historic District Commission
Municipal Properties
Planning Board
Planning Department
Sidewalk Committee
Transportation Advisory Committee
Tree Warden
Town Meeting?: 
Yes

Preserve rural characteristics and open space

Objective 1.3: Preserve rural characteristics and open space

Document and prioritize rural characteristics

Strategy 1.3.1: Document and prioritize rural characteristics

Document the rural characteristics that should be preserved. Develop a mechanism for prioritizing those elements which contribute to an appreciation for Acton’s history and the pleasure of living here.

Scenic Roads Bylaw

Action Item 1.3.1.1: Scenic Roads Bylaw

Consider expanding Acton’s Scenic Roads Bylaw to protect stone walls, mature trees, and other landscape features to other locations that have been identified as needing protection.1
  • 1. Acton’s Scenic Roads Bylaw regulates the removal of stone walls and trees within the right of way for 33 roads. Using this prioritization as a starting point, consider other locations where stone walls or other landscape features provide an important reminder of Acton’s historical development and land use or contribute to our appreciation of the landscape.
Timing: 
Long-Term (complete by 2030)
Primary Inventory Element: 
Cultural Resources
Other Inventory Elements: 
Transportation
Lead Owner: 
Historical Commission<i> </i>
Tree Warden<i> </i>
Regulatory?: 
Yes
Other Owners: 
Engineering Department
Natural Resources Department
Planning Board
Planning Department
Ripe?: 
No
Town Meeting?: 
Yes

Freedom’s Way Landscape Inventory

Action Item 1.3.1.2: Freedom’s Way Landscape Inventory

Support the further exploration/implementation of recommendations from the 2006 Freedom’s Way Landscape Inventory.1
  • 1. The Freedom’s Way Landscape Inventory is a 32 page report prepared in June 2006 by Acton citizens in collaboration with the Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) and the Freedom Way Heritage Association. The report includes many recommendations related to preserving rural character. http://www.mass.gov/dcr/stewardship/histland/recon...
Timing: 
Short-Term (complete by 2015)
Primary Inventory Element: 
Cultural Resources
Other Inventory Elements: 
Open Space
Planning?: 
Yes
Lead Owner: 
Historical Commission<i> </i>
Other Owners: 
Conservation Commission
Natural Resources Department
Engineering Department
Open Space Committee

Recognize waterbodies as part of Acton's heritage

Action Item 1.3.1.3: Recognize waterbodies as part of Acton's heritage

In planning for historical preservation and appreciation, be sure to include the streams and ponds of Acton as part of Acton's heritage.
Timing: 
Short-Term (complete by 2015)
Primary Inventory Element: 
Natural Resources
Other Inventory Elements: 
Cultural Resources
Open Space
Sustainability
Planning?: 
Yes
Lead Owner: 
Historical Commission<i> </i>
Other Owners: 
Conservation Commission
Health Department
Land Stewardship Committee
Morrison Farm Committee
Municipal Properties
Planning Department
School Committees
Ripe?: 
Yes

Protect open space

Strategy 1.3.2: Protect open space

Implement OSRP (Open Space portion)

Action Item 1.3.2.1: Implement OSRP (Open Space portion)

Support the implementation of the Open Space and Recreation Plan (OSRP) including its proactive strategy to anticipate and respond to open space in terms of protection and acquisition of parcels, as well as water resource protection.1
  • 1. The OSRP is being updated in 2011. Based on the OSRP, define primary purpose of protecting open space and develop criteria for prioritizing parcels (e.g. conservation, views, active recreation, protection of water resources, etc.); create a short list of open space protection priorities and stay focused on that list. Ensure broad public understanding regarding which open space is not protected and to what degree protected space is indeed protected.
Priority: 
Highest
Timing: 
Short-Term (complete by 2015)
Primary Inventory Element: 
Open Space
Other Inventory Elements: 
Natural Resources
Cultural Resources
Planning?: 
Yes
Lead Owner: 
Open Space Committee<i> </i>
Other Owners: 
Finance Committee
Natural Resources Department
Planning Board
Ripe?: 
No

Zoning to protect open space

Action Item 1.3.2.2: Zoning to protect open space

Use zoning to protect open space parcels
  • Continue the existing practice of encouraging the use of cluster zoning for most residential development outside the centers
  • Provide incentives for transfer of development away from open land to desired growth centers.1
  • 1. Transfer of development rights can preserve the entire open parcel; cluster zoning usually preserves just over half of the parcel.
Priority: 
Highest
Timing: 
Short-Term (complete by 2015)
Primary Inventory Element: 
Land Use
Other Inventory Elements: 
Open Space
Lead Owner: 
Planning Department<i> </i>
Regulatory?: 
Yes
Other Owners: 
Open Space Committee
Planning Board
Town Meeting?: 
Yes

Funding of open space protection

Action Item 1.3.2.3: Funding of open space protection

Consider multiple ways to fund the acquisition of desirable open space parcels so the Town is in a position to take advantage of opportunities when they arise. This action step should begin in the short term and continue through the long term as opportunities and finances permit.
  • Use tax income from economic development
  • Consider higher Community Preservation Act assessments and continue to use Community Preservation funds for purchase of high priority sites
  • Borrow funds for major purchases
  • Research other fund opportunities
  • Consider “purchase and develop part” strategies as a way of funding open space purchases
Priority: 
Highest
Timing: 
Ongoing (existing actions or efforts to be continued and expanded)
Primary Inventory Element: 
Open Space
Capital?: 
Yes
Lead Owner: 
Open Space Committee<i> </i>
Other Owners: 
Acton Community Housing Corporation
Community Preservation Committee
Finance Committee
Finance Department
Natural Resources Department
Planning Department
Selectmen

Other tools for protecting open space

Action Item 1.3.2.4: Other tools for protecting open space

Utilize other regulatory tools and incentives to protect open space. This action step should begin in the short term and continue through the long term as opportunities arise.
  • Actively support agriculture
  • Provide tax incentives to protect open space
  • Promote community gardens, country fairs and farmer’s markets
  • Purchase agricultural preservation restrictions (APRs), with money coming from the Community Preservation Act funds, Transfer of Development Rights, and other sources.
Priority: 
2nd Highest
Timing: 
New Sustained Action (start by 2015 and continue through 2030)
Primary Inventory Element: 
Open Space
Other Inventory Elements: 
Sustainability
Regulatory?: 
Yes
Lead Owner: 
Natural Resources Department <i></i>
Selectmen<i> </i>
Other Owners: 
Finance Committee
Finance Department
Planning Department
Town Meeting?: 
Yes

Preserve historic buildings and landscapes.

Objective 1.4: Preserve historic buildings and landscapes.

Develop preservation priorities.

Strategy 1.4.1: Develop preservation priorities.

Identify historic features

Action Item 1.4.1.1: Identify historic features

Continue to define historic characteristics (buildings, views, landscapes, etc.) and work with relevant committees to actively preserve these.1
  • 1. Incorporate appropriate recommendations from 2006 Freedom’s Way Heritage Landscape Inventory and refer to Mass Historic Commission Survey Forms. Consider desirability of expanding current historic districts to include older historic homes and historically significant structures (as listed in the Cultural Resources List)
Priority: 
2nd Highest
Timing: 
Ongoing (existing actions or efforts to be continued and expanded)
Primary Inventory Element: 
Cultural Resources
Other Inventory Elements: 
Open Space
Planning?: 
Yes
Lead Owner: 
Historical Commission<i> </i>
Historic District Commission<i> </i>

Preserve historic features

Strategy 1.4.2: Preserve historic features

Preserve historically significant buildings, landscapes and other historic features.

Coordinate Historic District review process

Action Item 1.4.2.1: Coordinate Historic District review process

Coordinate Historic District Commission review with development of design guidelines and BoS special permit review of development in historic village centers. Consider giving HDC jurisdiction to review color choices.
Timing: 
Short-Term (complete by 2015)
Primary Inventory Element: 
Cultural Resources
Other Inventory Elements: 
Land Use
Lead Owner: 
Selectmen<i> </i>
Regulatory?: 
Yes
Other Owners: 
Design Review Board
Historic District Commission
Planning Department
Ripe?: 
No
Town Meeting?: 
Yes

Protection outside of Historic Districts

Action Item 1.4.2.2: Protection outside of Historic Districts

Explore options for protecting historic landscapes and historic resources located outside the established historic districts. (See Cultural Resources List)
Timing: 
Medium-Term (complete by 2020)
Primary Inventory Element: 
Cultural Resources
Planning?: 
Yes
Lead Owner: 
Historical Commission<i> </i>
Other Owners: 
Historic District Commission
Planning Department

Outreach to private historic property owners

Action Item 1.4.2.3: Outreach to private historic property owners

Conduct outreach to private historic property owners to promote an understanding of their buildings' place in Acton's history and to help with funding for preservation.1
  • 1. HDC is developing a revolving loan/grant program, potentially funded in part by CPA funds, modeled after the Town’s revolving loan fund for septic system improvements.
Timing: 
Short-Term (complete by 2015)
Primary Inventory Element: 
Cultural Resources
Lead Owner: 
Historical Commission<i> </i>
Historic District Commission<i> </i>
Influence?: 
Yes
Ripe?: 
Yes

Foster appreciation of Acton's history

Objective 1.5: Foster appreciation of Acton's history

Foster an understanding and appreciation for what makes Acton unique, including its history.

Promote an active interest in the past on the part of residents and visitors alike.

Strategy 1.5.1: Promote an active interest in the past on the part of residents and visitors alike.

Tourist infrastructure

Action Item 1.5.1.1: Tourist infrastructure

Invest in tourist support infrastructure for certain key sites and publicize town features (historic site, nature trails, etc).
Timing: 
Long-Term (complete by 2030)
Primary Inventory Element: 
Cultural Resources
Capital?: 
Yes
Other Inventory Elements: 
Economic Development
Lead Owner: 
Historical Commission<i> </i>
Other Owners: 
Economic Development Committee
Economic Development Officer
Historic District Commission
Municipal Properties
Selectmen
Transportation Advisory Committee

Town gateways

Action Item 1.5.1.2: Town gateways

Improve town entrances / gateways to be welcoming and reflect Acton’s historic heritage.
Priority: 
2nd Highest
Timing: 
Long-Term (complete by 2030)
Capital?: 
Yes
Primary Inventory Element: 
Cultural Resources
Other Inventory Elements: 
Economic Development
Lead Owner: 
Economic Development Committee<i> </i>
Historical Commission<i> </i>
Other Owners: 
Economic Development Officer
Engineering Department
Municipal Properties
Planning Department
Town Meeting?: 
Yes

Historic celebrations

Action Item 1.5.1.3: Historic celebrations

Continue to support historic celebrations and efforts to increase awareness of Acton’s historic past (e.g. events, plaques, Historic Marker program, school curriculum).
Timing: 
Ongoing (existing actions or efforts to be continued and expanded)
Primary Inventory Element: 
Cultural Resources
Lead Owner: 
Historical Commission<i> </i>
Other Owners: 
Citizens and citizen groups
School Committees
Selectmen

Include Native history

Action Item 1.5.1.4: Include Native history

Expand the telling of Acton’s history to include a wider time period and events including Native American history as well as European history of the town. (For example, the ‘Trail Through Time’ in North Acton.)
Timing: 
Ongoing (existing actions or efforts to be continued and expanded)
Primary Inventory Element: 
Cultural Resources
Lead Owner: 
Historical Commission<i> </i>
Other Owners: 
Citizens and citizen groups
School Committees
Selectmen