Town of Westminster, MA
Worcester County
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Table of Contents
Table of Contents
[HISTORY: Adopted by the Zoning Board of Appeals of the Town of Westminster as indicated in article histories. Amendments noted where applicable.]
GENERAL REFERENCES
Zoning — See Ch. 205.
Subdivision of land — See Ch. 231.
228a Comp Permit Application Checklist

§ 228-1 Applicability.

The rules and regulations contained herein shall apply only to applications for comprehensive permits for construction of low and moderate income housing, filed pursuant to MGL c. 40B, § 21, by a public agency, a nonprofit organization, a limited dividend corporation, or any other approved organization, when (a) the site is controlled by the applicant and (b) said construction is fundable by a governmental agency under a low- and moderate-income housing subsidy program.

§ 228-2 Submission procedure.

A. 
Except where the submission of any item is specifically waived by the Chairman or by the majority of the Zoning Board of Appeals, all of the following items and information shall be delivered to the office of the Zoning Board of Appeals during the normal office hours or at a hearing of the Board and, if satisfactory to the Board, shall constitute the submission of an application for a comprehensive permit. Notice of such satisfactory submission shall be given to the Town Clerk and the applicant.
(1) 
Filing fee in the form of a check made out to the Town of Westminster. The fee shall be as specified in the most recent fee schedule. The filing fee required hereunder is not in lieu of any other fee required by law. If a permit is granted hereunder, the applicant shall pay the fee required for a building or other permits at the time of submission of detailed plans and specifications to the Building Inspector. (See Board of Appeals Fee Schedule.[1])
[1]
Editor's Note: The Board of Appeals Fee Schedule is on file in the Town offices.
(2) 
Fifteen copies of the completed application in the form prescribed by the Board.
(3) 
The applicant shall submit certified copies of authorities or votes, identifying the individual authorized to act on its behalf. Furthermore, the applicant shall submit a copy of its certificate of organization as approved by the state and a list of names and addresses of individuals or organizations who are stockholders, shareholders, holders of beneficial interests or otherwise interested in the applicant.
(4) 
A certificate from the Massachusetts Commissioner of Corporations and Taxation that the applicant is registered as a nonprofit or a limited dividend corporation, or other approved organization.
(5) 
Two copies of a letter identifying the subsidizing federal or state agency to which application has been made and identifying the subsidy program. Project eligibility letter: a project eligibility/site approval letter from a state or federal housing program which states that the project has been determined eligible under a particular housing program and a copy of the project eligibility application form.
(6) 
Ten copies of site and building plans, certified by a registered professional engineer or architect, registered land surveyor or landscape architect, as applicable, as to compliance with Town of Westminster, Commonwealth of Massachusetts or Federal Housing Administration laws and regulations, bearing the appropriate registration seal and showing the following information:
(a) 
Site plans showing topographic changes, information on vegetation, open spaces, property lines, drainage, soils, dimensions, location, materials and construction of any utilities, roads and other improvements, including cross-sections, profiles, details and specifications, also the locations and dimensions of any buildings and structures, existing and proposed.
(b) 
Traffic analysis.
[1] 
The analysis shall include:
[a] 
Traffic counts on arterial streets that provide access to the site showing data on average daily traffic and a.m. and p.m. peak periods (conducted for two hours divided into fifteen-minute segments);
[b] 
Intersection turning movement counts on intersections likely to be affected by the proposed development showing two-hour counts for the a.m. and p.m. periods divided into fifteen-minute time segments;
[c] 
An inventory of roadway characteristics showing the width of the principal approach streets, the presence or absence of curbing and its conditions;
[d] 
Estimated trip generation showing the projected inbound and outbound vehicular trips for the a.m. and p.m. peak periods and a typical one-hour off-peak trip generation;
[e] 
The estimated distribution of new trips by approach streets;
[f] 
The effect of additional traffic generated by the development on traffic levels of service on each approach street (The term level of service means level of service as defined by the Highway Capacity Manual issued by the Highway Resource Board of the U. S. Department of Transportation.); and
[g] 
Estimated off-street parking and loading requirements and time of peak accumulation.
[2] 
The applicant shall submit such information to the Planning Board and the Town Engineering Department prior to the public hearing and request a report and recommendation on:
[a] 
The adequacy of the data and the methodology employed;
[b] 
The effects of the additional traffic on adjacent streets; and
[c] 
Remedial measures, if any, to accommodate the additional traffic on the adjacent streets, such as the location of highways, limitation on left turns, hours of operation, and the like.
(c) 
Plot plan of the entire housing development showing distances, bearings, radii and tangents of all lot or property lines, all streets, rights-of-way, easements and the names of all abutting owners and of all easement rights' holders. The plot plan shall also show delineations of any and all vegetative wetlands and applicable buffers, riverfront areas, watershed protection areas and zoning designations.
(d) 
Floor, roof and foundation plans of all buildings, also elevations, wall sections and electrical, plumbing and other mechanical plans. Construction details shall be shown and materials and specifications listed. Proposed site development: all proposed structures including building footprints, parking, roads, drainage features, open space; typical drawings for each housing type; utilities and infrastructure improvements; changes in grading, topography, subdivision of land (if applicable).
(e) 
A list of all requested exceptions to local requirements and regulations, including reference to the specific provisions of the local bylaws or regulations from which the exceptions are sought and a detailed description of the manner in which the proposed development departs from each of the specified provisions.
(f) 
A certified abutters list.
(g) 
Alternative site uses under existing zoning; first level environmental assessment under MGL c. 21E (if available); identification of any features of historic or archeological significance; identification of any significant natural resource or wildlife habitat. The level of detail should not exceed that which is already available to the public from another agency, or which the applicant will otherwise be required to provide to another public agency.
(h) 
Housing program (e.g., local initiative program); housing types and bedroom mix data; proposed affordable/market rate ratios; project density; ground coverage data; proposed landscaping/buffers; MGL c. 21E remedial action (if applicable).
(i) 
Building tabulation: a tabulation of the proposed number of buildings, units, and bedrooms per building.
(j) 
Subdivision plan: a preliminary subdivision plan, if a subdivision is part of the proposal. The drafting of the plan should conform to the technical standards of the Planning Board.
(k) 
Analysis of the projected number of students that will attend the school from the project.
B. 
For the purposes of these rules and regulations, a "housing development" shall be defined to include the entire parcel of land to be used for the construction of dwellings and all the changes and improvements to be undertaken thereon incidental to providing subsidized housing.

§ 228-3 Processing of plans.

A. 
On the receipt of all the items enumerated above, the Board shall distribute the copies thereof together with a request for recommendations to other local boards and agencies as follows:
(1) 
One set of plans and one copy of application to the Selectmen.
(2) 
One set of plans, 1 copy of application and 1 copy of letter of commitment from the subsidizing agency to the Planning Board.
(3) 
One set of plans to the Board of Health.
(4) 
One set of plans to the Department of Public Works.
(5) 
One set of plans to the Building Inspector.
(6) 
One set of plans to the Conservation Commission.
(7) 
One set of plans to Town Counsel.
(8) 
One set of plans to the Fire Department.
(9) 
One set of plans to the Police Department.
(10) 
One set of plans to the Historic District Commission.
(11) 
One set of plans to the School Board.
B. 
The Chairman of the Zoning Board of Appeals may also send copies of all or any of the plans and of the supplementary material to such other agencies as he may deem appropriate, including, but not limited to, the Montachusett Regional Planning Council and the Massachusetts Department of Natural Resources, and may therefore request additional copies of the submissions by the applicant.
C. 
A public hearing on the proposed housing development shall be established by the Board, and held by the Board within 30 days of the receipt of the complete application; such hearing shall be advertised in the local newspaper twice, the first notice not less than 14 days prior to the date of the hearing. The notice of hearing shall contain at least the following information:
(1) 
Place, date and time of the hearing;
(2) 
Name of the applicant;
(3) 
Location of the proposed housing development sufficient for identification and acreage of the parcel;
(4) 
Number and type of dwellings proposed;
(5) 
Federal or state subsidy programs involved and the general income and age groups for which the housing development is intended.
D. 
Copies of the notice of the hearing shall be sent by mail, postage prepaid, to all parties of interest as defined in MGL c. 40A, § 11, and to all boards and agencies to whom the Board of Appeals has transmitted copies of the application. The Board may request the attendance of such boards, officials or persons or their agents or representatives at the hearing or the submission of written reports.
E. 
The hearing may be continued by the Board Chairman to a day within the forty-day period after hearing, or for such further time agreeable with the applicant without prejudice to either party to gather more information, give the applicant time to provide further information, to retain consultants, or for other reasons specified by the Chairman. The applicant shall bear the costs of any consultants retained by the Board.
F. 
Except where specified otherwise, the Board shall proceed in accordance with the Westminster Zoning Bylaw,[1] the Board's Rules and Regulations, and with Chapter 40A of General Laws.
[1]
Editor's Note: See Ch. 205, Zoning.
G. 
Within 40 days of the hearing, the Board shall either approve the application and issue a comprehensive permit to proceed with construction in strict compliance with the plans, terms and conditions of the application, approve the application with contingencies or modifications or disapprove it. In the event of approval with modifications or disapproval, the Board shall enumerate the specific reasons for its action. Copies of the decision, including any reasons or conditions, shall be given to the Town Clerk, to the applicant and to local boards and officials which had received copies of the plans.
H. 
Except as provided below, comprehensive permits shall be valid only for the applicant, subsidy program and development project and conditions described therein. If, after a comprehensive plan has been granted, the applicant desires to change the details of the project as approved, the applicant shall notify the Board of Appeals in writing. Within 20 days of such notification, the Board of Appeals shall notify the applicant whether it deems the proposed change to be substantial or insubstantial. If the change is determined to be insubstantial or if the Board fails to notify the applicant of its determination, the comprehensive permit shall be deemed modified to incorporate the change. If the change is determined to be substantial, the Board shall hold a hearing on the change within 30 days of its determination, and issue a decision on the change within 40 days of the termination of the hearing.
I. 
Unless construction under a comprehensive permit commences within two years of the date on which the comprehensive permit becomes final, or within such lesser or greater time period as the Board may specify in the permit, said permit shall lapse and may not be reestablished without a new application and hearing. The date upon which the comprehensive permit becomes final is the date the Board of Appeals' or the Housing Appeal subcommittee's decision if no appeal is filed. Otherwise, the permit becomes final on the date the last appeal is denied or otherwise disposed of.
J. 
The Board of Appeals may, prior to the expiration date of a comprehensive permit, authorize its extension. An extension shall not be unreasonably denied.

§ 228-4 Construction of housing developments.

The construction of housing developments under the comprehensive permits shall be subject to inspection at all reasonable times to ensure compliance with the permit, the plans, the applicable standard specifications of the Town of Westminster and with any other applicable laws, rules and regulations. Such inspection may be carried out by the Board and by its agents and representatives, including, without limitation, the Building Inspector and members of his department, the Planning Board and its staff, and the Board of Health and its staff.
A. 
Not less than 48 hours (excepting Saturday and Sunday) prior to commencement of each phase of site development, the applicant shall give notice thereof to the Planning Board and not less than 48 hours (excepting Saturday and Sunday) prior to the commencement of each phase of building construction, the applicant shall give notice thereof to the Building Inspector. If material or work shall be covered without the approval of the Planning Board or its agents as regards the site development and of the Building Inspector or his agents as regards the building construction, the applicant may be required to uncover, open, disconnect and replace any work or materials covered in violation hereof.
B. 
The Zoning Board of Appeals may, following a public hearing thereon, revoke the permit of any housing development violating Town requirements, obstructing inspections by duly authorized Town personnel, or where the workmanship or the materials are repeatedly found to be not in conformance with the approved plans and specifications.
C. 
The Board of Appeals may require the applicant to provide a performance guaranty consistent with the procedures established by the Planning Board in their subdivision regulations. The process of the performance guaranty shall be supervised by the Board of Appeals, and the Board of Appeals may consult with the Inspector of Buildings, the Director of the Public Works, the Planning Board, or other person or entity to determine the sufficiency of the work prior to release of the performance guaranty.

§ 228-5 Planning, design and construction standards.

A. 
As provided for in § 20 of Chapter 40B of General Laws, requirements and regulations consistent with local needs shall apply as equally as possible to both subsidized and unsubsidized housing. To the extent consistent with said § 20, housing development shall be designed to comply with zoning, building and sign bylaws of the Town of Westminster,[1] the rules and regulations of the Board of Health[2] and the Rules and Regulations Governing the Subdivision of Land[3] in the Town of Westminster and the standard specifications of the Department of Public Works. Variances or waivers from local bylaws and regulation may be granted by the Board of Appeals only where such variances or waivers are consistent with local needs, that is where the regional housing need outweighs the health, safety, environmental, design, open space, or other local concern supporting the bylaw or regulation to be varied or waived, or where the applicant has proposed sufficient preventative or corrective measures to mitigate the local concern.
[1]
Editor's Note: See Ch. 81, Buildings and Land, and Ch. 205, Zoning.
[2]
Editor's Note: See Division 4, Board of Health Regulations.
[3]
See Ch. A231, Subdivision of Land.
B. 
All housing developments shall be located in a manner compatible with the long-range comprehensive Town and financial plan for Westminster, Massachusetts, except as otherwise recommended by the Planning Board. The suitability of a site for housing development will also be evaluated in relation to the following:
(1) 
Land served by a septic system or other means of handling sanitary wastes;
(2) 
Accessibility from a collector or arterial street;
(3) 
Safety and convenience of vehicular access;
(4) 
Open or recreational space within or nearby;
(5) 
Accessibility to stores carrying convenience goods and to services;
(6) 
Convenience to public transportation;
(7) 
Free of soil and engineering problems making the development unduly difficult or costly.
(8) 
Availability of adequate drinking water supply.
(9) 
Impact on wetlands and aquifer protection areas.
(10) 
Impact on Town services.
C. 
The importance of the above factors depends on the age and income groups to be served by the development and increases with the increased concentration of dwelling units.

§ 228-6 Engagement of outside consultants.

A. 
To assist the Board of Appeals, the Board may impose reasonable fees for the engagement of outside consultants. The minimum requirements of the consultant selected shall consist either of an educational degree in or related to the field at issue or three or more years of practice in the field at issue or a related issue. If the applicant believes the consultant selected has a conflict of interest or does not possess the minimum required qualifications, the applicant may bring an administrative appeal to the Board of Selectmen. The required time limits for action by the Board of Appeals upon the application shall be extended by the duration of the administrative appeal. In the event that no decision is made by the Board of Selectmen within one month following the appeal, the selection made by the Board of Appeals shall stand. Such administrative appeal shall not preclude further judicial review, if otherwise permitted by law, on the grounds provided for in this section.
B. 
Such fees shall be deposited in a special account established by the Town Treasurer, and shall be kept separate and apart from other monies. The special account, including accrued interest, if any, shall be expended at the direction of the Board of Appeals without further appropriation; provided, however, that such funds are to be expended by the Board of Appeals only in connection with carrying out its responsibilities under the law. Any excess amount in the account attributable to a specific project, including any accrued interest, at the completion of said project shall be repaid to the applicant or to the applicant's successor in interest, and an accountant shall submit annually a report of said special account to the Board of Selectmen for its review, with a copy delivered to the Board of Appeals. Such report shall be published by the Treasurer in the Town Annual Report. The accountant shall also submit annually a copy of said report to the bureau of accounts.

§ 228-7 Severability.

The invalidity of any provision of these regulations shall not invalidate any other section or provision herein.