Some Councilors worried about the impact of requiring businesses and residential complexes to have a plan to control the number of people making solo driving trips, especially on small businesses, but two Town Council subcommittees agreed to move the proposal forward.
On Wednesday night, the Ad Hoc Traffic and Rules and Ordinances subcommittees held a joint meeting to work through details of Traffic Demand Management plans. These plans would be required for developments of 10,000 square feet or more or residential projects with 10 or more units, if the project requires a special permit and site plan review from the town.
Plans could include steps like educating employees or residents about public transit options, providing free MBTA passes, organizing carpools and providing facilities for people bicycling to work to cleanup and dress for work. If a plan is not followed or the goals are not met, the development can be fined up to $300.
It also applies to projects that projects that generate 150 average daily trips (someone driving to and from a complex would count as two trips), or more than 15 at peak hours.
Councilor Ken Woodland said some of the language in the proposal concerned him.
“I am concerned this would apply to some pretty small businesses,” Woodland said.
The subcommittee wanted to exclude customers of retail or restaurants from being counted, but still wanted to have it apply to a bigger retail establishment.
“We can’t penalize owners because customers are driving to patronize their business,” said Councilor Vincent Piccirilli.
He worried, however, how separating the customers from employees when counting trips could be done.
The subcommittee members agreed to add an exemption for retail customers. They already had exemptions for child care facilities and land or structures owned or leased by the state or “its agencies, subdivisions or bodies politic.”
Even if they are not required to reduce the number of customers driving solo to a business, Councilor Tony Palomba said businesses could still do things to encourage them to find alternate ways of getting there even if it is not required by the proposal.
“They could do things such as having bike racks and five percent off if they show they used public transportation,” Palomba said.
Exactly how much they would be required to reduce single-occupancy vehicle trips was not included in the proposal. The townwide goal is 20 percent, but the goal for each individual project would be decided when they work with the Planning Board and Zoning Board on their special permit or site plan reviews, Assistant Town Manager Steve Magoon said.
The Councilors stressed it is 20 percent of the number of trips, not 20 percentage points. So the overall residential single occupancy vehicle use of 68 percent townwide would have a goal of dropping to 54 percent, not 48 percent, Piccirilli said.
Before the proposal goes to the full Council for consideration, the subcommittees voted to send it to the town’s attorney to look it over. The proposal will then return to the joint subcommittees which will vote on whether to send it to the Full Town Council.