BYLAW: Use Regulations By-law
MUNICIPALITY: Amherst, Massachusetts
FOR MORE INFORMATION ON THIS BYLAW CONTACT:
Jonathan Tucker, Planning Director
4 Boltwood Ave
Amherst, MA 01002
TEXT OF THE BYLAW
3.01 The development or operation on a single lot of more than one dwelling or more than one of the Principal Uses described in Section 3.3 is expressly prohibited except where the Principal Uses are clearly complementary to each other, or where otherwise provided by this Bylaw.
3.02 Trailer camps, billboards and all open air storage of junk, including inoperable automobiles and all uses which are excessively obnoxious or injurious to their neighborhood or to all property in the vicinity are expressly prohibited in all zoning districts in the Town. Inoperable automobiles and other materials related thereto stored in an auto salvage yard operating under an approved Special Permit shall not be considered junk under this Section.
3.11 Building Near Ponds No permanent structure shall be located within 100 feet of any pond or Surface Water Impoundment of flood retention area without a Special Permit from the Zoning Board of Appeals permitting such structure within 100 feet. Such Permit shall not be issued unless the Zoning Board of Appeals takes into consideration the following in addition to the findings required by Section 3.22, if applicable, and by Article 10.
3.111 Elevation and placement of buildings
3.113 Sewage disposal
3.114 Erosion and sedimentation control
3.115 Effect of fill, roadways, or other encroachments
3.116 Equipment location
3.117 Refuse disposal
3.118 Extent of paving
3.12 Earth Removal and Filling of Land
3.121 Any application to the Zoning Board of Appeals for a Special Permit, or to the Planning Board for Definitive Subdivision Plan Approval, as specified in Sections
3.1225, 3.1226, 3.374 and 5.10, shall include the following specific information:
3.1211 The location of the proposed excavation or filling;
3.1212 The legal name and address of the owner of the property;
3.1213 The legal name and address of the petitioner;
3.1214 Names and addresses of all abutting property owners including those on the opposite side of any streets;
3.1215 A plan of land involved prepared by a Registered Land Surveyor, showing all manmade features, property lines, vegetative cover, watercourse, drainage swales, soil characteristics and existing topography by five foot contours plus a strip 100' wide surrounding said land;
3.1216 A plan of land showing five foot contours of the finish grading and drainage of the site with clear identification of the top and toe slopes after the proposed completion of the excavation or filling project;
3.1217 The estimated quantity of material to be removed or added and topsoil to be stripped and replaced.
3.1218 The proposed form of bond to be used.
3.122 No Special Permit shall be required for the following:
3.1221 Moving earth products within the limits of an individual property of land in single ownership.
3.1222 Removal of earth products from an operating farm nursery, or cemetery to the extent that such removal is necessary to the operation of the same.
3.1223 The moving and removal of earth products for any municipal purpose by, or on behalf of, any Department of the Town of Amherst;
3.1224 The moving and removal of earth products when incidental to and in connection with the construction of a building or street or other activity authorized by this Bylaw.
3.1225 Filling of land in conjunction with a development that requires a Special Permit. Any such filling of land, however, shall be approved as part of the Special Permit required for the development and shall meet the conditions of Section 3.12.
3.1226 Filling of land in conjunction with a development that requires definitive subdivision plan approval. Any such filling of land, however, shall be approved as part of the subdivision plan and shall meet the conditions of Section 3.12.
3.20 Design Review
The purpose of this section is to preserve and enhance the Town's cultural, economic and historical resources by providing for a detailed review of all changes in land use, the appearance of structures and the appearance of sites which may affect these resources. The review procedures are intended to:
1) Enhance the social and economic viability of the Town by preserving property values and promoting the attractiveness of the Town as a place to live, visit and shop;
2) Encourage the conservation of buildings and groups of buildings that have aesthetic or historic significance;
3) Prevent alterations that are incompatible with the existing environment or that are of inferior quality or appearance; and
4) Encourage flexibility and variety in future development.
3.201 Design Review Board
In accordance with the provisions of Chapter 40A of the Massachusetts General Laws, a Design Review Board is hereby established. The Design Review Board shall review applications for all actions that are subject to the provisions of this section and shall make recommendations to the appropriate permit-granting authority concerning the conformance of the proposed action to the design review standards contained herein.
The Design Review Board shall consist of five members, two of whom are registered architects, landscape architects or persons with equivalent professional training, and one of whom operates a business or owns commercial property in the affected area. Appointments to the Design Review Board shall be made as follows:
1) One member shall be appointed by the Chairperson of the Planning Board, with the concurrence of a majority of said Board;
2) One member shall be appointed by the Chairperson of the Historical Commission, with the concurrence of a majority of said Commission; and
3) Three members shall be appointed by the Chairperson of the Select Board, with the concurrence of a majority of said Board.
The terms of all members of the Design Review Board shall be three years, except that when the Board is originally established, the Select Board shall make two of their appointments for a two year term and the remaining appointment shall be for a one year term.
3.202 Reviewable Actions
The following types of actions shall be subject to review by the Design Review Board and shall be subject to the design standards herein.
3.2020 Actions in the Downtown B-G & B-L Districts
All new structures, alterations or additions to existing structures, changes in outdoor land use or changes in site design which require a building permit, Site Plan Review, Special Permit or Variance and which affect the exterior architectural appearance of a building or site shall be subject to review by the Design Review Board, provided that the action occurs within the General Business (B-G) District or abutting Limited Business (B-L) zoning districts.
3.2021 Exterior actions within 150 feet of the Town Common
Any construction, alteration, demolition or removal that affects the exterior architectural appearance of a building or site shall be subject to review by the Design Review Board provided that the site is on or within 150 feet of the Amherst Town Common, as measured from the outside edges of the curbs bordering the three sections of the Common, parking lots and interior road ways inclusive.
Exterior architectural appearance shall be defined as the architectural character and general composition of the exterior of a building, including but not limited to the kind, color and texture of building materials, including paint color, and the type, design and character of all windows, doors, light fixtures, signs, awnings, utility and ventilation structures and all other appurtenant elements.
The appearance of a site shall be defined as the character, layout and general composition of the site, including but not limited to the kind, color and texture of such materials as plantings, paving, benches, site lighting, free-standing signs, utility structures and all other appurtenant elements.
3.2022 Actions by Town Government
Any construction, alteration, demolition or removal of a structure or site by the Town of Amherst shall be subject to review by the Design Review Board. This includes all actions throughout the Town of Amherst, except for routine maintenance of existing structures or sites. Any repair, renovation or rehabilitation which will result in substantial alteration to the form or appearance of a structure or site shall not be considered routine maintenance. Where the status of such an action by the Town is in doubt, the department or agency responsible shall request a determination from the Zoning Enforcement Officer prior to beginning work.
3.203 Procedures for Review of Actions Subject to Design Review
3.2030 Applications for all actions subject to review by the Design Review Board shall be made by submitting a complete application form along with the required application materials and fee to the Planning Department where application forms may be obtained.
3.2031 All applications to the Design Review Board shall include all information required by the Rules and Regulations of the Design Review Board, as applicable, in addition to any other information that the Board may require, and any information that is required under this Bylaw as part of an application for a building permit, Site Plan Review, Special Permit or Variance. The Design Review Board may waive any and all of the requirements for design review submittal and approval.
3.2032 Upon receipt of an application for design review, the Planning Department shall immediately transmit a copy of the application to the Building Commissioner or the appropriate Town staff for the applicable permitting authorities. The Design Review Board shall review the application and transmit its recommendations in writing to the applicant and Building Commissioner or other appropriate Town staff within thirty-five (35) days of the receipt of the application. If the application for design review is associated with an application for a Variance or a Special Permit, the Building Commissioner shall immediately transmit the Design Review Board's recommendations to the Zoning Board of Appeals. Failure by the Design Review Board to make and transmit its recommendation within the thirty-five (35) day period allocated shall be considered a recommendation for approval of the application submitted, unless the applicant has granted an extension in public meeting or in writing.
3.2033 No design review shall be required in those instances where the Design Review Board determines that specific actions subject to Section
3.202 do not constitute substantial alterations to the form or appearance of a building or site, and where no new or additional requirements of the Zoning Bylaw must be met for the proposed action.
3.204 Design Review Principles and Standards
The design review principles and standards described in this section are intended to guide the applicant in the development of site and building design and the Design Review Board in its review of proposed actions. These principles and standards shall not be regarded as inflexible requirements and they are not intended to discourage creativity, invention or innovation. The Design Review Board is specifically precluded from mandating any official aesthetic style for Amherst or for imposing the style of any particular historical period. The design review principles and standards shall apply to all actions reviewable under Section 3.202.
3.2040 General Principles
1) Every reasonable effort shall be made to preserve the distinguishing original qualities of a building, structure or site and its environment. The removal or alteration of any historic material or architectural features should be avoided when possible.
2) All buildings, structures and sites shall be recognized as products of their own time. Alterations that have no historical basis and that seek to create an earlier appearance shall be discouraged.
3) Stylistic features distinctive to the architecture of a specific building, structure or landscape, or examples of skilled craft which characterize a building, structure or site shall be conserved or preserved where feasible and appropriate, and may be considered for use as the basis for design of additions. Their removal or alteration should be avoided whenever possible.
4) Contemporary design for new structures or sites, alterations or additions to existing properties shall not be discouraged when such new development, alterations or additions do not destroy significant historical, architectural or cultural material, and when such design is compatible with the design character of the surrounding environment.
5) The design of alterations and additions shall, where reasonable and appropriate, strive to improve the quality, appearance and usability of existing buildings, structure and sites.
3.2041 Design Review Standards
The Design Review Board shall consider, at a minimum, the following standards in the course of the design review of a proposed action.
1) Height - The height of any proposed alteration should be compatible with the style and character of the building, structure or site being altered and that of the surroundings.
2) Proportions - The proportions and relationships of height to width between windows, doors, signs and other architectural elements should be compatible with the architectural style and character of the building or structure and that of the surroundi¿ 3) Relation of Structures and Spaces - The relation of a structure to the open space between it and adjoining structures should be compatible with such relations in the surroundings.
4) Shape - The shape of roofs, windows, doors and other design elements should be compatible with the architectural style and character of a building or site, and that of its surroundings.
5) Landscape - Any proposed landscape development or alteration should be compatible with the character and appearance of the surrounding area. Landscape and streetscape elements, including topography, plantings and paving patterns, should provide continuity and definition to the street, pedestrian areas and surrounding landscape.
6) Scale - The scale of a structure or landscape alteration should be compatible with its architectural or landscape design style and character and that of the surroundings. The scale of ground-level design elements such as building entryways, windows, porches, plazas, parks, pedestrian furniture, plantings and other street and site elements should be determined by and directed toward the use, comprehension and enjoyment of pedestrians.
7) Directional Expression - Building facades and other architectural and landscape design elements shall be compatible with those of others in the surrounding area with regard to the dominant vertical or horizontal expression or direction related to use and historical or cultural character, as appropriate.
8) Architectural and Site Details - Architectural and site details including signs, lighting, pedestrian furniture, planting and paving, along with materials, colors, textures and grade shall be treated so as to be compatible with the original architectural and landscape design style of the structure or site and to preserve and enhance the character of the surrounding area. In the downtown business districts, these details should blend with their surroundings to create a diverse, functional and unified streetscape.
9) Signs - The design of signs should reflect the scale and character of the structure or site and its surroundings. Signs should simply and clearly
identify individual establishments, buildings, locations and uses, while remaining subordinate to the architecture and larger streetscape.
The choice of materials, color, size, method of illumination and character of symbolic representation on signs should be compatible with the architectural or landscape design style of the structure or site, and those of other signs in the surroundings.
3.21 Educational District (ED)
3.211 In an Educational District any use of land and buildings is permitted which may legally be carried on by, or under the auspices of the College or University which owns or manages the property in said District provided that the appropriate officials shall file with the Planning Board, for its information, plot plans of any new construction or significant change in use at least 60 days prior to initiation of said construction or change.
3.212 It is intended that the Zoning Map shall include in Educational Districts only land which is in fact owned or managed by Amherst College, Hampshire College, or the University of Massachusetts (but not all such land will necessarily be so zoned).
3.213 All setbacks, side and rear yards and heights within 50 feet of the boundary of an Educational District shall conform to the dimensional regulations applicable to the adjacent zoning district.
3.214 Within an Educational District, adequate off street parking shall be provided so that neither curb parking on public streets nor parking on property outside the Educational District shall be needed in connection with uses within the Educational District.
3.215 For wireless communications uses, the provisions of Section 3.340.2 shall apply and prevail.
3.22 Flood Prone - Conservancy (FPC) District
3.221 The invalidity of any portion of the FPC District shall not invalidate any other portion or provision thereof.
3.222 The purposes of this District are:
3.2221 To protect persons and property within the Town of Amherst from the hazards of flood inundation by assuring the continuation of natural flow patterns and the maintenance of adequate and safe floodwater storage capacity.
3.2223 To protect the community against pollution and costs which may be incurred when unsuitable uses occur along water courses, wetlands, ponds and reservoirs, or in areas subject to flooding.
3.223 The FPC District shall consist of those geographical areas hereinafter delineated which by virtue of their relationship to components of the natural hydrology of the Town of Amherst, have substantial importance to the protection of life and property against the hazards of floods, erosion, and pollution, and in general are essential to the public health, safety, and welfare. Those geographical areas include flood prone areas, natural water storage areas adjacent to ponds, rivers, streams and wetlands as well as reservoirs.