Ridgeline and Hillside District
BYLAW: Ridgeline and Hillside Districts By-law
MUNICIPALITY: Wilbraham, Massachusetts
DATE ADOPTED: June 25, 1990, amended through ATM 5/4/98, approved by AG 9/11/98 Current as of May 6, 1999
The purposes of the Ridgeline and Hillside District (in addition to those enumerated elsewhere in this Zoning By-Law) are:
To preserve and protect the natural scenic beauty and related natural resources of the upland areas in the Town of Wilbraham.
To regulate new construction, the removal of natural vegetation, especially large trees, and the excavation and alteration of land, in order to minimize any danger of erosion, sedimentation, flooding, water pollution, and other adverse impacts of development within the District or any adjacent low lying area.
To insure that development within the District does not reduce property values within said District or adjacent thereto by unnecessarily detracting from the natural visual setting or obstructing significant views. 9.3.2 Scope of Authority The Ridgeline and Hillside District is herein established as an overlay district and shall be superimposed on other districts established by this By-Law. All regulations of the Wilbraham Zoning By-Law applicable to such underlying districts shall remain in effect, except that where the Ridgeline and Hillside District imposes additional regulations, such regulations shall prevail.
9.3.3 District Delineation The Ridgeline and Hillside District includes all land in the Town of Wilbraham at an elevation of five hundred and fifty (550) or more feet above sea level as delineated on a map entitled "Ridgeline and Hillside Overlay District, Town of Wilbraham, MA, March 1991", as amended.
9.3.4 Development Subject to Ridgeline and Hillside District Review Notwithstanding other provisions of this By-Law, no land development within the Ridgeline and Hillside District shall be permitted and no building permit, special permit or approval of a definitive subdivision plan under the Subdivision Control Law shall be issued until the provisions of Ridgeline and Hillside District Review have been fulfilled and site plans approved by the Ridgeline and Hillside District Review Board. Activities constituting development and subject to review within said district include the following:
A. The construction of a new dwelling or principal structure.
B. A significant addition or alteration to any dwelling or other structure, if such action affects the exterior appearance. A significant addition or alteration is defined as an alteration which increases the assessed value by fifteen (15) percent, or which adds to the height of the structure, or which substantially alters the visual profile of the property or structures thereon.
C. The removal, filling, excavation or alteration of earthen materials or the construction of an access road, if such action changes pre-existing drainage characteristics or sedimentation patterns, or alters the topographic or visual profile of the property.
D. The construction of a windmill, tower, satellite dish, antenna or other visually prominent accessory structure.
E. Any subdivision which requires approval under the Subdivision Control Law, M.G.L., Chapter 41.
F. The removal or destruction of trees, if such action results in a clear cutting or denuding of the forest cover, or an observable visual modification to the forest canopy as viewed from a public way or Public Vantage Point. Selective timber cutting shall be permitted within the area of a designated building envelope wherein principal and accessory structures have been approved. Timber cutting for the purpose of clearing land for legitimate agricultural purposes shall be permitted subject to satisfactory evidence of such intended use.
9.3.5 Ridgeline and Hillside District Review Board The Ridgeline and Hillside District Review Board shall be the Planning Board. The Ridgeline and Hillside District Review Board shall adopt, and may periodically amend by majority vote, after a public hearing, Rules and Regulations relating to the procedures and administration of Ridgeline and Hillside District Review not inconsistent with the provisions of this By-Law or Chapter 40A of the General Laws, and shall file a copy of said Rules and Regulations with the Town Clerk.
9.3.6 Application Information The Ridgeline and Hillside Review Board shall require the following application information unless same is waived as hereinafter provided.
220.127.116.11 Application forms are available in the Planning Office.
18.104.22.168 All applications shall include all information and fees required by the Rules and Regulations of the Ridgeline and Hillside Review Board, as applicable, in addition to any other information that is required under this By-Law as part of an application for building permit, site plan approval, special permit or subdivision approval.
22.214.171.124 Applications must be accompanied by a site plan . If the development site occupies only a small portion of a parcel of land, the Ridgeline and Hillside Review Board may specify that only a portion of the parcel of land in question be identified on any site plan so submitted. The site plan shall contain the required information listed under section 13.3 as well as the following additional information:
A. The placement, height, physical characteristics, and architectural rendering of all existing and proposed buildings and structures on the development site including building envelopes if so required.
B. View Points: Photographs of the site of development taken from at least three (3) significant Public Vantage Points exterior to the project together with a map to indicate the location of points and approximate distance to the proposed development.
C. Measures to be undertaken during and after construction to prevent erosion, sedimentation, flooding or water pollution.
D. Vegetation: Existing and proposed vegetation, all proposed landscaping improvements including plans depicting the type, bulk, and height of trees and shrubs.
E. Any other information that is necessary for the proper consideration of the application.
9.3.7 Design Standards Development in the Hillside and Ridgeline District shall be designed to blend harmoniously with the natural terrain and vegetation in order to preserve and protect the scenic character and the environmental quality of the site in accordance with the following standards:
126.96.36.199 Siting of Structures and Building Characteristics A. The placement of buildings and structures shall not detract from the site's scenic qualities or obstruct significant views. B. Building sites shall be placed downgrade of the ridgeline where possible and shall be located in a manner as not to break the view or exceed the elevation of the ridgeline as viewed from Public Vantage Points. C. Foundations shall be constructed to reflect the natural slope of the terrain. D. Roof lines and roof surfaces should be an important part of the building design and shall reflect the natural slope of the terrain. E. Building materials and exterior colors shall blend with the natural landscape. F. Where public views will be unavoidably affected by a structure, the building height shall not exceed twenty-five (25) feet.
188.8.131.52 Landscaping A. The removal of native vegetation, especially large trees, shall be minimized. Trees may only be removed for construction of streets, driveways or structures. Selective clearing for lawns and septic systems shall be designated on the site plan. B. Landscaping and plantings shall be utilized to screen buildings in open or prominent areas from significant views. Landscaping and plantings shall be generally compatible with native vegetation.
184.108.40.206 Grading Any grading or earth moving operation is to be planned and executed in such a manner that final contours appear to be consistent with the existing terrain, both on and adjacent to the site.
220.127.116.11 Utilities Utilities shall be constructed and routed underground.
18.104.22.168 Erosion and Sedimentation Control A. Post development runoff shall not exceed pre-development levels. All runoff from impervious surfaces shall be retained on site, and if necessary, shall be diverted to infiltration basins covered by natural vegetation which shall be designed to handle a minimum 25 year storm. B. Appropriate sediment and erosion control measures shall be employed to minimize the impacts during and after construction.
22.214.171.124 Accessory Structures Construction of a tower, satellite dish, windmill, antenna, or other similar installation shall not obstruct the view of or from a public way, or an abutter's dwelling. Storage areas, equipment sheds, above-ground swimming pools, and similar accessory structures shall be screened from public view by dense evergreen plantings or landscaped, low earthen berms where necessary.
9.3.8 District Review Criteria A Ridgeline and Hillside District application shall be approved where consistent with the following criteria: 126.96.36.199 Development is designed and located on the site to sensitively relate with the natural terrain and vegetation in order to preserve the visual character of the site so as not to interfere with or degrade its scenic attractiveness as viewed from either a public highway or Public Vantage Point. 188.8.131.52 Safeguards have been employed so that land development will not result in flooding or water pollution or cause soil erosion or sedimentation, in order to prevent the creation of a dangerous or unhealthy condition. 184.108.40.206 Where public views will be unavoidably affected by the proposed development, architectural and landscaping measures have been employed so as to minimize the impact.
9.3.9 Review Procedure The Ridgeline and Hillside Review Board shall review all applications subject to the provisions of this section and shall make recommendations to the appropriate decision making body concerning conformance with the design review standards contained herein.
220.127.116.11 Conference. The applicant shall be given written notice of the public meeting at which its application will be reviewed, and shall be given an opportunity to be heard on the application.
18.104.22.168 Time Schedule. The Ridgeline and Hillside Review Board shall review the application and issue its decision within forty-five (45) days of the receipt of the application.
22.214.171.124 Decision of the Review Board The concurring vote of a simple majority of the Ridgeline and Hillside Review Board shall be required for any decision, and the Board's written decision shall consist of either: A. Approval of the site plan based on a determination that the proposed project meets the requirements of this section. B. Approval of the site plan subject to such conditions, modifications and reasonable restrictions as the Review Board may deem necessary to ensure compliance with the requirements of this section. C. Denial of the site plan based on a determination that either: 1. Insufficient information was submitted with the application for the Board to adequately review the proposal; or 2. The project does not meet the requirements of this section.
9.3.10 Waiver of Compliance . It is recognized that there will be numerous instances of development within said district which do not conflict with any of the goals of this By-Law and that a waiver should therefore be promptly and expeditiously granted by the Review Board. Such waiver may be granted where the proposed development is not extensive enough or intrusive enough to justify intervention under this By-Law, or where the land in question being developed is located in an area of the District which does not require the protection of this By-Law because of topography or other considerations. It is expressly intended that said waivers may be partially or fully granted with a minimum of expense and delay to the applicant. To simplify the procedure for determination in cases where an applicant believes he or she is entitled to a waiver as to some or all of the filing requirements, the applicant may submit to the Ridgeline and Hillside Review Board such information as the Board shall require in order to determine whether or not the provisions of the By-Law require a detailed submission. If the Ridgeline and Hillside Review Board, after a review of the information presented by the Applicant, is satisfied that the provisions of this By-Law do not require further action hereunder, a waiver shall be promptly issued.