Zoning Change Allows Businesses to Have Pick-Ups of Items Bought Remotely

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The City of Watertown’s Zoning Map.

A Zoning change approved by the City Council will allow customers to drive up to local businesses and pick-up items purchased remotely.

The amendment to the Watertown Zoning Ordinance allows businesses to allow the transfer of goods purchased remotely, and they will designate parking spots for these transactions.

At the April 26 City Council meeting Council President Mark Sideris summarized what would be allowed with the change.

“Basically, they order on the phone or computer, they drive up, tell them you are here, and they come out and give it to you,” Sideris said.

Councilor Lisa Feltner said she was concerned that businesses near neighborhoods that do not have a lot of parking may take up the small amount of parking designated for businesses.

Senior Planner Gideon Schrieber said that the Planning Board had a similar concern, and the board amended the recommendation so it does not allow the transfer of goods bought remotely in areas zoned as neighborhood business. This was the version that the Council approved.

It is allowed by getting approval of a special permit in the following zones: central business; limited business; industrial 1, 2 and 3; the Pleasant Street Corridor District; and Regional Mixed Use District (RMUD) on and around the east end of Arsenal Street. Click here to take a closer look at the Watertown Zoning Map

Councilor John Gannon asked if sales of alcohol would be allowed to be picked-up the same way as other items purchased remotely. Schrieber said that alcohol sales are not allowed for remote purchase and pick-up.

Councilor Nicole Gardner said she has seen businesses in other communities where remote purchase and pick-up is allowed, and she noticed they moved the handicap parking spot so that the pick-up spot was closest to the door. She said she did not want this to happen in Watertown.

Because the service will be allowed only with a special permit, Schrieber said, the location of the spot would have to be approved by the Planning Board and/or Zoning Board (depending on which makes the final decision for the location).

“They cannot make any change to the parking lot without approval of the board,” Schrieber said. “That is not something that the board would approve.”

The Council unanimously approved the Zoning amendment to allow pick-up of items purchased remotely.

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