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Norwell officials want to change zoning rules to allow about 100 housing units to be built at Queen Anne’s Plaza, a shopping strip near the Hingham border at the busy intersection of Routes 228 and 53.

Officials also are pushing another zoning change that would allow increased density at nearby 146-acre Accord Park, one of the town’s industrial parks that is close to the Rockland-Norwell line near Route 3.

The proposed changes are part of an economic development plan designed to encourage commercial investment and decrease reliance on residential property taxes. The plan says it also addresses the challenge of providing more affordable housing in town for seniors looking to downsize and young professionals working on the South Shore.

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Town planner Kenneth Kirkland said both zoning measures, if endorsed by the selectmen and Planning Board, would go to the May 2020 Town Meeting, where they would need a two-thirds majority vote to take effect.

Kirkland said planners chose to recommend making Queen Anne’s Plaza a 40R overlay zoning district, which allows a mix of residential and commercial uses. The plaza currently is home to several businesses — including a Big Y grocery, T.J. Maxx, and HomeGoods — and a large vacant area behind the buildings.

Kirkland said the 17-acre site could accommodate about 100 residential units under the proposed zoning change. He added that the current owner — Federal Realty Investment Trust, which also owns the mixed-use development Assembly Row in Somerville — has expressed interest in redeveloping Queen Anne’s Plaza, but is not ready with a realized plan.

“We’re looking at this in the future,” Kirkland said. “It’s more enabling than getting ready for something specific.”

Kirkland said a traffic study of the area confirmed what everyone knows:
Traffic there is bad. But he said the study also found that the lights at the Routes 228/53 intersection haven’t been retimed in more than a decade; retiming could alleviate the current problem, he said.

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Kirkland said that zoning changes at Accord Park would allow new uses, such as a hotel, and increased height limits to accommodate more dense development in the center of the park.

“Doing nothing is really a walk backwards,” he said. “We want to keep these areas productive and not slide back.”

Kirkland also said that zoning changes were only a first step. Norwell has no public sewer system and would need to find ways to provide wastewater treatment and meet other environmental challenges before any new development was likely, he said.


Johanna Seltz can be reached at seltzjohanna@gmail.com.