Letter: A Bad Precedent For Fall River’s Waterfront

The following letter was submitted to the Fall River Zoning Board of Appeals as public input for its meeting on June 16, 2022:

Members of the Fall River Zoning Board of Appeals,

The Preservation Society of Fall River respectfully asks that the ZBA deny the variance and special permit request for the property at 100 Weaver Street.

Standing at 160-feet tall, the proposed 14-story building would overshadow the entire North End of Fall River and set a terrible precedent ahead of increased development along the city’s waterfront.

Fall River’s own Waterfront Urban Renewal Plan stresses that new developments in this area blend with the neighborhood around them as well as its nearby historic structures.

The plan’s proposed design guidelines specifically for the Zoning Board of Appeals state that new buildings in a historic district should relate harmoniously to their neighborhood context by establishing relationships of use, scale, dimensions, design patterns, and materials that are compatible with the historic design character of adjacent buildings.

The c. 1873 Border City Mill No. 2 building stands close by at five stories tall. Rather than complementing this monument of Fall River craftsmanship, the new development would hide it – and the waterfront – from view of the public.

The city’s existing zoning recognizes the value of Fall River’s historic skyline as well.

The proposed 14-story, 160-foot-tall building is located within a historic Commercial Mill District, which limits buildings to six stories and 80-feet in height. A decision to waive all setbacks, building height restrictions, and parking requirements for 346 units would be detrimental to the neighborhood and do nothing to maximize the area’s potential for the city, instead only maximizing profits for the developer at the cost of Fall River.

If we are to ensure Fall River residents will continue to benefit from Fall River’s historic skyline and waterfront, it is vital that these assets are protected and not walled off by development unreflective of the community.

The Preservation Society of Fall River, Inc.
Board of Directors

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