Littleton Common Overlay District Study

Littleton Common: At Exit 31 on I-495 at Exit 31, at the junction of Routes 119, 110, and 2A. Littleton Common hosts the Littleton campus of IBM’s MassLab facility (its largest software development campus in North America, with 2,200 employees), and the 90-acre mixed use site, "The Point", now being developed by Sam Park & Company, which will create 400 more jobs.

Town Meeting approves Littleton Common Village Zoning.May 3, 2010 Special Town Meeting voters approved Article 4. Zoning: Littleton Village Common District (Area A) by a vote of 159 to 47; and Article 5. Zoning: Littleton Village Overlay District West - Beaver Brook Area (Area B), by a vote of 153 to 38. Read the results of the Special Town Meeting. Attorney General approves zoning by-law amendments.


The Board of Selectmen and Planning Board worked closely with the  and the Metropolitan Area Planning Council over the last couple of years on the Littleton Common Overlay Zoning Study, and supported the two zoning amendments passed by the May 3, 2010 Special Town Meeting, which both promote economic development consistent with community character, and help achieve important community goals, including strengthening the Village Center.

Littleton Common Village Common District (Area A). The so-called Area A zoning amendment will guide future development, and help Littleton manage growth and desired change by creating a new Village Common business zone which replaces the existing Business B zone, whose uses and dimensional requirements mirror the Business B zone. The Village Common District would allow mixed use development by special permit. Mixed use can encourage the re-use of existing or under-utilized structures, and create a livelier village center. Mixed use residential is an alternative to sprawl and lessens dependence on the auto. Design Guidelines will help maintain the character of the Village. Area A includes the IBM site, which is designated as a Priority Development Site (PDS) under MGL Chapter 43D, the expedited permitting statute.

Littleton Village Overlay District West - Beaver Brook Area (Area B).  A Village Overlay District was created for the so-called Area B, which includes the IBM site and the Cisco Systems property. This article establishes an Overlay, which is added “on top” of the “regular or underlying” zoning. The Overlay is optional, at the developer’s choice. If the Overlay is used, additional design guidelines must be met in exchange for additional uses. If not used, the underlying zoning controls. This zoning amendment helps to accomplish the community’s goals by providing more flexibility for development or re-development, and more uses available for industrially-zoned land. While the Overlay is optional, it does require a Special Permit from the Planning Board. Area B includes the IBM and Cisco Systems sites, both designated as PDS sites under MGL Chapter 43D.

On April 8 and 22, 2010, the Planning Board held its public hearings on proposed zoning amendments for Areas A and B as set forth in Articles 4 and 5 of the May 3, 2010 Special Town Meeting.  See presentation. Go to public hearing notices The Planning Board's recommended motions for Town Meeting are shown below:

Resource documents

Area A - Village zoning - 3/19/10

Map of Area A Parcels

Area B - Overlay zoning - 3/19/10

Map of Area B Parcels - 4/22/10

ARTICLE 4 - Planning Board/Board of Selectmen - Zoning Amendment: Littleton Village Common District (Area A). Proposed Motion: Moved and seconded by the Planning Board that the Town vote to amend the Zoning Map and Zoning By-Law of the Town of Littleton precisely as set forth in Article 4 as printed in the warrant.

ARTICLE 5 - Planning Board/Board of Selectmen - Zoning Amendment: Littleton Village Overlay District West-Beaver Brook Area (Area B). Proposed Motion: Moved and seconded by the Planning Board that the Town vote to amend the Zoning Map and Zoning By-Law of the Town of Littleton as set forth in Article 5 as printed in the warrant, subject to the following modifications: 
1. Amend the second bulleted clause in §173-167.A, Purpose and Intent to read as follows: “Economic development while remaining sensitive to environmental and surrounding residential area impacts”; 
2. Delete the first sentence of §173-167.B in its entirety and insert in its place the following: “The Littleton Village Overlay District West – Beaver Brook Area includes those portions of the Industrial A District (I-A), the Industrial B District (I-B) and the Village Common District to the North of the Great Road and West of King Street, all as shown on the map entitled “Littleton Village Overlay District West – Beaver Brook Area Zoning Map,” dated April 22, 2010 and prepared by the Metropolitan Area Planning Council on file with the Town Clerk and hereby made a part of this chapter.”; 
3. Add to the subsection of §173-176 labeled “Building Scale and Massing,” after the sentence that reads “Such features include varied facades, rooflines, roof heights, materials and architectural details,” the following new sentence: “The Planning Board may, as part of a Master Planned Overlay Development Special Permit approval, authorize an exception to the height limit upon a finding that the additional height is integral to the use and/or specific design of the structure(s); and 
4.Delete the second sentence of § 173-176 Design Standards External Materials and Appearance and add in its place: “Predominant wall materials shall have the appearance of wood, stucco or stone. If painted or coated, only a non-metallic finish shall be used.”

Littleton Common Zoning Report. The Metropolitan Area Planning Council (MAPC) has submitted its report on the Littleton Common Overlay District study, which it prepared under the District Local Technical Assistance (DLTA) program. Read the report.   See Area C Draft concepts [12/28/09].

The Board of Selectmen and Planning Board have held numerous meetings on the Littleton Common Overlay District study. 

June 17, 2009 Public Forum.  The Planning Board and Board of Selectmen hosted a Littleton Common Overlay District Public Forum on Wednesday, June 17, 2009 at the Middle School. The forum was led by Mark Racicot of the Metropolitan Area Planning Council (MAPC) to begin setting the stage for creating a potential overlay district for Littleton Common, the nearby properties to the west, including those owned by IBM and Cisco, as well as possibly areas to the east of the existing business district. Mr. Racicot used a PowerPoint Visual Preference Tool that MAPC has successfully used in Bedford, Millis and other communities in preparation for discussions of mixed use bylaws. See the results of the June 17, 2009 exercise.  See Tables and Charts summarizing June 17, 2009 Forum Results

The Town requested assistance from MAPC to prepare a draft of a mixed-use bylaw for the three subareas of the potential overlay district, which would allow for a special permit review process to allow for retail, office and residential construction within the designated area (although not all uses would necessarily be allowed in all three areas). A public forum regarding the potential overlay district is now scheduled for Wednesday, June 17, 2009 from 7 to 9 PM at the Littleton Middle School.  The Planning Board will also hosted a follow-up meeting on Thursday, July 23, 2009 at 8 PM.

Input received from the public, along with the materials presented at the public forum, will be available on this webpage after the forum so that those who could not attend may be able to provide continuing input to the town Boards. Questions? Please contact Planning Administrator/Permit Coordinator Maren Toohill at


Flyer for June 17, 2009 Public Forum

Draft Presentation on Prospective Land Uses

Draft Presentation on Design Issues in Commercial Areas

Desired Uses Tally Sheet

At a joint meeting with the Planning Board on April 13, 2009, the Littleton Board of Selectmen vote to approve a revised scope of services with the Metropolitan Area Planning Council (MAPC) under theDistrict Local Technical Assistance (DLTA) program program for preparation of an overlay district by-law for the Cisco/IBM/Littleton Common area. Next steps will be to engage the affected property and business owners in this planning process. Our target is to prepare an overlay district proposal for a Fall 2009 Special Town Meeting.  On December 8, 2008, the Board had voted to authorize the submission of a request to MAPC under the DLTA program. MAPC had announced on February 5, 2009 that it wished to proceed once a scope of services has been worked out.  

MassDevelopment Transportation Study. MassDevelopment and BSC Group have produced a traffic and transportation analysis of the Town’s Priority Development Sites, IBM and Cisco. See presentation.  Read More