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City of Watertown Planning Board takes no action on zoning ordinance

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Due to a lack of board members at its meeting Tuesday afternoon, the city Planning Board postponed a discussion of the controversial zoning law change pertaining to roommates.

As a result, the Planning Board took no action on the zoning change that brought city leaders under scrutiny for allegedly trying to regulate lifestyles and living arrangements.

Board members now hope to take up the issue at a meeting July 9. Until about an hour before the meeting’s start, Kenneth A. Mix, the city’s planning and community development coordinator, expected a quorum, but an unidentified member canceled at the last minute. Only two of six board members arrived.

Members also tabled the matter last month to give city staffers time to develop recommendations.

The issue first came before the board in January after a Thompson Boulevard resident complained her neighbor was living with his fiancée and two friends. The neighborhood is made of single-family houses and is zoned as a Residential A district.

In a 5-1 vote, the board removed language pertaining to roomers. In February, the City Council passed it. The zoning change became a public relations nightmare for the city, bringing dozens of people to council meetings, and elicited widespread criticism on social media platforms.

Supporters defended the change, contending the media blew the issue out of proportion.

They also argued they were trying to protect Residential A districts from boarding and rooming houses.

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