MARLBOROUGH - Planning leaders Tuesday outlined draft multifamily housing guidelines that recommend what types should be built in certain sections of the city.

Officials from the Metropolitan Area Planning Council also detailed a proposed point-based system city officials can use to rate potential housing developments.

The guidelines broke Marlborough into sections – including established neighborhoods, commercial corridors, commercial and industrial parks and large-scale greenfields – and determined the most suitable types of housing for those areas.

To maintain the character of established neighborhoods like French Hill, townhouses and multiple unit buildings - which would likely include only a handful of units - would be ideal to for those areas.

“We’re talking about more modest buildings on these lots,” said Josh Fiala, senior land use planner with MAPC.

Urban Affairs Committee members cited projects like the renovation of the former Cozy Cafe as a potential example.

Committee members stressed any project - regardless of its location - must fit with the character of the neighborhood and be a quality proposal. Councilors said they don’t want to squeeze projects into neighborhoods if they are too large or tall.

“What we want is something that has curb appeal,” said City Council President Ed Clancy. “We want to make it look like it blends in.”

Commercial corridors – including sections of the eastside – could accommodate townhouses, multiple unit buildings and multi-unit facilities served by a common entry and interior corridor that include parking.

The city’s southwest – which houses several commercial and industrial parks – would be an ideal spot for townhouses, multiple unit buildings, facilities with an interior courtyard and housing arranged to conceal a parking structure.

Greenfields in the northwest section of Marlborough could accommodate all types of housing and make those areas pedestrian- and bicyclist-friendy, according to the guidelines.

Mark Racicot, manager of MAPC’s land use division, outlined the point-based criteria, which includes how a project fits into the neighborhood, how it benefits the city, the effect it will have on city services, if it includes an affordable housing and other factors.

Each project would receive points based on its ability to meet Marlborough’s criteria - which is still being determined - and allow city officials to determine the best housing projects for the city.

“We want to make sure it’s quality design,” said Racicot.

The City Council last spring signed off on a six-month moratorium on special permits for housing projects to allow officials time to devise a housing plan to deal with rapid growth. Planning officials and committee members stressed the guidelines are a work in progress and will be tweaked. The committee will continue its discussions in the coming weeks.

To view the full MAPC report visit

Jeff Malachowski can be reached at 508-490-7466 or Follow him on Twitter @JmalachowskiMW.