ATTLEBORO — Sterry Street Auto is not going to pave paradise, but it is going to put up a parking lot, thanks to a zoning change approved by the city council Tuesday.
And that may be a God-send to MBTA rail commuters.
Councilors voted 10-0, with one councilor absent, to change the zoning of a vacant, scrubby, trash-strewn, one-acre lot off Newport Avenue to general business from residential and industrial which will allow the construction of a 104-space pay-lot next to a 579-space MBTA lot which is usually jammed.
The lot will increase parking near the South Attleboro MBTA commuter rail station by 18 percent.
Earlier this year, Sterry Street applied to the zoning board for permits which would allow the construction of a marijuana shop on the parcel, but was turned down.
The new zoning matches adjacent zoning.
Most of the heavily trafficked area contains business operations, but there are homes on the north side of the lot. Screening will be provided to hide the parking facility.
Sara Lynn Reynolds, who represents the area as the Ward I councilor, backed the change.
“I think a parking lot is the best use of the property,” she said. “They’ve been trying to find a use for it for a long, long time.’
Councilor Todd Kobus, chairman of the zoning committee, pointed out that Sterry Street is under no obligation to keep the parcel as a parking lot. Anything allowed in a general business zone can be put there in the future if the owner wants to sell it or change its use.
Reynolds said that’s unlikely, at least for now.
“I think he’ll do well enough financially to keep it a parking lot,” she said.
The planning board previously approved the proposed zoning change on a unanimous vote and the city’s director of planning and development Gary Ayrassian also supported the change because it will turn an unproductive piece of property into a productive piece of property, Kobus said.