Opinion: Help small businesses fill their storage needs

Apr 28, 2023

To the editor: As a 22-year resident of our good town, my wife Christine and I have had our share of community involvement. In addition to raising two sons, we started our small import business here in 2008 out of the back room of our home, while working two other jobs. As a six-year Chairman of the Lakeville Arts Council I helped formulate and launch the annual Arts & Music Festival, set up a Visiting Arts Lecture series in the library, and did some of the early work getting the Great Ponds Gallery started. I was also a founding member of the group that organized to keep Sysco from hurting our town, because it was clearly too big for the old Lakeville Hospital space it wanted to build on.

We truly care about Lakeville, and we care about small businesses. That is why, after two years of research, I petitioned the town to amend one bylaw in a way that would uniquely help small businesses to have a path to build limited size buildings in our business zones, without the interference of large, out-of-town franchise corporations.

 This article, which will be voted on by Lakeville residents on May 8 allows a small business that wants to build a minimum of 1,500 sq. ft. of retail, office, or service space to apply for a special permit to have up to 7,000 sq. ft. of storage and distribution space. For comparison of size, the Dollar Store, which is essentially an open warehouse with both industry and consumer traffic, is 12,000 square feet. This amendment would severely limit the size of any storage/distribution to that of a small business.

 This amendment is designed to help small businesses like specialty importers, or e-commerce resellers, or craft furniture makers that are too small to be in an industrial zone, but too big to be working out of a basement or garage. In other words, businesses that are smaller, quieter, and a much better fit for business-zoned lots located next to residences.

 This special permit would be overseen by the Zoning Board of Appeals, to ensure that the maximum size of any storage/distribution space in a qualifying business zoned building would be limited to about half the size of the Dollar Store, and never bigger. They could also impose restricted lighting, signage, and hours of operation. 

Please support the proposed amendment to the Lakeville Zoning Bylaw to amend Section 4.1, Table of Use Regulations. Sub-section 4.1.2, Business Uses which would add the following language:

Retail, office, or service business (minimum1,500 sq. ft.) with up to 7,000 sq. ft. of associated storage and wholesale distribution. Per Special Permit by the Zoning Board of Appeals.

Daniel and Christine Cooney