ZBA proposing zoning amendments for “Nonconforming uses, lots, and structures”

by beth on January 10, 2020

As I previously posted, The Zoning Board of Appeals will ask voters to make edits to the zoning code at Town Meeting. (They aren’t the only ones.) So far, agenda references had been vague. But I got copy of the redlined changes, which provides some clarity.

Changes focus on to language around zoning code referring to “Nonconforming uses, lots and structures.” In multiple locations, references to permits for “the extension or alteration” were replaced with “the extension, alteration, reconstruction or otherwise structural change”. It also added an allowed by right change for single and 2 family residential structures as long as:

ZBA redlined zoning amendment

(click to open pdf)

Alteration, reconstruction, extension or structural change as proposed and constructed does not intensify any existing nonconformities or result in any additional nonconformities.

Additionally, the following text was deleted:

No special permits under this subsection shall be granted for nonconforming signs subject to Chapter 93 or 93D of the General Laws.

The public hearing on the Article will be held by the Planning Board on the evening of January 27th.

In the meantime, if you’re looking for insight into why the changes are proposed, you might want to attend/tune in to the ZBA’s meeting next week. The item is on the agenda for discussion. But it looks like the changes are simple cleanup or clarification, likely prompted by discussions the Building Department staff had this summer/fall. 

Here’s some background from prior public meetings and minutes. 

Non-conforming structure replacements/changes appeared before the board multiple times this fall. The board held public hearings related to a non-conforming deck, porch and carport.

In December, Town Counsel Aldo Cipriano briefed the Board of Selectmen on his work since April. One of his meetings was with the Building Commissioner and ZBA staff. It included specific questions about an issue with a nonconforming structure, “one of the most complicated areas of zoning law.” They also talked about other issues they might see.  

Later, Cipriano noted that the ZBA had asked him about the process for submitting zoning amendments to Town Meeting. He advised that Planning is the proper authority to hold the public hearings. (He didn’t link that to his discussion about non-conforming structures, but the proposed revisions appear to.)

In addition, August minutes indicate that the Building Commissioner was working with the Town Clerk to review the Town Code for any inconsistencies and errors in the zoning.

You can look at the full redlined document here.

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