November 11, 2022
Special Town Meeting is Next Monday
By Gregory T. Federspiel
Residents are asked to gather for a Special Town Meeting at the Middle High School on Monday, November 14th. The meeting gets underway promptly at 6:30PM. Please allow enough time to park, check-in and get seated. A voter booklet with all the articles and the specific language for each of the zoning amendments is available on-line at the Town’s web site or at Town Hall and the Library. Copies will also be available when you sign-in for the meeting.
Given the number of zoning amendments being proposed, it may be necessary to continue the meeting to a second night. If this is the case the meeting will continue Tuesday evening beginning at 6:30PM also at the Middle High School.
Here is a brief Article by Article review:
Article 1: Seeks additional funding to defend the ZBA’s denial of the 40B permit for the SLV project.
Article 2: Seeks approval to use funds set aside for Fire Department vehicles to either rebuild the current spare ambulance or purchase a new ambulance. The decision to rebuild or buy new will be made by the Select Board in consultation with the Fire Department and the Finance Committee.
Article 3: Asks voters through a citizen’s petition article to seek a special act from State legislators allowing for local elected officials to be recalled “off-cycle” from normal elections.
Articles 4 – 16 propose various changes to the Town’s Zoning By-law. It has been decades since the by-laws have benefited from a cover-to-cover update. The new by-laws follow a clearer format, are updated to be consistent with new state laws and court cases. One new use (senior housing) is proposed along with changes in the permitting processes for certain small apartments and new non-conforming uses.
Article 4: Replaces Sections 1-4 of the bylaws; adds new definitions; adds a Use Table.
Article 5: Proposes to move Junk Cars, Curb Cuts and Stormwater regs the to the General by-laws and thus expand the applicability of these bylaws.
Article 6: Proposes to delete the above from Zoning assuming voters approve Article 5.
Article 7: Proposes to renumber Zoning By-law Section 7 to 12 and 6.1 to 7.0. (No other changes)
Article 8: Proposes to update the General Regulations mainly by improving the criteria for approving projects that need a special permit and/or site plan review.
Article 9: Proposes to update Section 12 Administration and Procedures by strengthening the procedures for special permits and site plan review; specifies role of Planning Board.
Article 10: Proposes clarification to how changes to non-conforming uses are handled. Perhaps the most consequential clarification is that the new language makes it clear that a use that currently does not comply with zoning could, after undergoing a special permit review process, be changed to a new non-conforming use if the new use is deemed less detrimental to the neighborhood.
Article 11: Asks voters to limit Adult Entertainment establishments to the Limited Commercial District only (the area to the north of Route 128.)
Article 12: Proposes to allow the clustering of homes in more situations and provides for more units (density bonuses) for a greater number of affordable housing or other public amenities. The proposal would retain the need for a special permit but remove the acreage threshold and allow clustering if at least twice the minimum lot size is available.
Article 13: Proposes a new use – Senior Housing – in any district in town if a proposal obtains a special permit.
Article 14: Proposes that up to 20 small apartments constructed within existing homes could be approved annually without the need for obtaining a special permit (by-right instead if the project meets all the conditions.) Removes the requirement that an ADU is allowed only on a double lot and in homes built prior to 1984. Adds a 6-month minimum lease and owner occupation requirement.
Article 15: If Article 14 fails to gain approval, Article 15 seeks a more modest change by proposing to remove both the double lot requirement and the building age limit as well as reducing the parking requirement from 4 to 3 spaces while keeping the special permit requirement for all ADU’s in place. If Article 14 is approved, then Article 15 would be passed over.
Finally, Article 16 proposes to amend the Table of Uses adopted in Article 4 by allowing family members in addition to an employee to live in an existing garage, stable or other existing structures converted to living space.
See you at the Special Town Meeting!