Town of Chelmsford, MA Passes Business District Overlay to Spur Redevelopment

Chelmsford Prepares for the Future with Approval of Route 129 Zoning Overlay

On October 24, 2016, the Town of Chelmsford overwhelmingly voted to take a significant step towards reinventing itself to re-establish its regional leadership role as the center of community and commerce for northeastern Massachusetts.

Eighty-seven percent (87%) of Chelmsford’s town meeting representatives voted to approve a zoning overlay for its Route 129 business corridor. The 623-acre area is already home to multiple local, regional and world headquarters, such as Hittite, Sycamore Networks, Lockhead Martin and Comcast. The adopted overlay provides new opportunities for comprehensive (re)development aimed at blending amenities such as restaurants, retail, indoor recreation, entertainment, hotels, and housing to foster a “live, work, and play” environment.

A broad outreach of stakeholder’s voices was sought to ensure the overlay would meet the needs of all constituents. Chelmsford’s Planning Board used data compiled by the Chelmsford Economic Development Commission from focus groups with commercial brokers, company leaders, industrial property owners, and the community to craft smart zoning designed to support current and future market needs.

The resulting bylaw creates a flexible and responsive zoning overlay that enhances the “129 business corridor” by enabling broader use and larger scale (re)development.  It promotes increased building heights, parking garages and integrated amenities to stimulate multi-use site development. Further, the overlay introduces opportunities for the development of multi-family housing to address changing trends and stakeholders needs.

The 129 overlay plan received unanimous endorsement by key governing and regulatory boards, demonstrating the depth of Chelmsford’s commitment to economic development and its desire to compete regionally.  The Planning Board sponsored the zoning change and the Economic Development Commission actively canvassed the support of the community.  The Finance and School Committee unanimously endorsed the initiative as did a majority of the Board of Selectmen.

Chelmsford’s “129 business corridor” is further enriched by its distinct location at the intersection of Route 495 and Route 3 which strengthens the competitive advantage of all businesses in the corridor. Likewise, the overlay’s increased building heights abutting Route 3 offers an incredible opportunity for highway visibility and promotion. With Boston, just 20 miles to its south, and New Hampshire only minutes away, Chelmsford can truly be described as the Crossroads of Community and Commerce.

Interested in learning more about new development opportunities in Chelmsford? Visit to learn about our streamlined and expedited permitting process and put this incredible location to work for you. Evan Belansky, Economic Development Officer can also be reached directly at 978-244-3444.


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