Town of Wakefield, MA
Middlesex County
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Table of Contents
Table of Contents
The purpose and intent of this article is to provide adequate lot size, frontage, privacy, daylight, sunlight and air in the Town; to secure safety; to prevent overcrowding of land; to provide at least a minimum of useful outdoor space; and to establish a minimum and a maximum relationship between lot and structure for the purpose of retaining and preserving the amenities of the various areas of the Town of Wakefield.
A. 
Number of one- or two-family residential buildings on a lot. Any one lot shall not contain more than one single-family or two-family dwelling.
B. 
Frontage requirements for all districts. Upon approval of the Planning Board, the required frontage for lots on curved streets where the radius of the arc at its degree of greatest curve is less than 100 feet and lots on turning circles may be reduced by not more than 50%, provided that the required lot width is attained at the required minimum front setback line.
C. 
Yard requirements for all districts. Where a side or rear yard is adjacent to a street, the side or rear yard requirement shall be the same as the distance specified for front yard setback (unless specifically excepted herein).
(1) 
No front yard shall be used for the open storage of boats, vehicles, travel trailers or any other equipment. In residential districts, parking of vehicles is prohibited in the front yard, except for automobiles parked in the driveway. A driveway in any residential district shall not serve more than one lot, except within an open space development as provided at § 190-93. Driveways shall not exceed a width of 20 feet in residential districts without a special permit from the Board of Appeals, and 60% of the front yard shall be maintained as open area, without parking. In business and industrial districts, parking is permitted in the front yard area, provided that a fifteen-foot landscaped strip is provided adjacent to the street right-of-way line.
[Amended 5-6-1996 ATM by Art. 34; 11-8-2004 RTM by Arts. 30 and 33]
(2) 
An unenclosed first story porch with a roof area not exceeding 50 square feet may extend into a required front yard by not more than eight feet.
(3) 
No building need provide a front yard in excess of 20% of the depth of the lot nor more than the average of the building setback on either side (assuming a vacant lot to meet the district requirement).
(4) 
Business structures or uses shall not display goods for sale purposes or display coin-operated vending machines of any type in any location which would infringe upon the required yard areas specified in this chapter.
(5) 
An accessory building attached to a principal building shall comply in all respects with the yard requirements of this chapter for the principal building. An unattached accessory building serving a one- or two-family dwelling may be located in a rear yard within 7.5 feet of a side or rear lot line.
(6) 
No swimming pool over 24 inches in depth shall be located within 30 feet of any street line or within a required side yard area or within 7.5 feet of a rear lot line.
(7) 
No structure intended for commercial agricultural use, such as a greenhouse or a building, structure or pen for poultry or other livestock, shall be less than 100 feet from any lot line. If such structure is for a noncommercial use, then it shall be deemed an accessory building and subject to the yard requirements applicable thereto. No commercial farming establishment shall be allowed in an area not zoned for agriculture unless the parcel is of five acres or more, or unless the parcel is of two acres or more and the sale of products produced by that farming establishment on the said parcel annually generates at least $1,000 per acre based on gross sales dollars.
[Amended 11-18-2013 RTM by Art. 17]
(8) 
Any residential dwelling in the Single Residence Zoning District which was in existence prior to the adoption of the current fifteen-foot side yard setback requirement and is situated so that it is in violation of said setback may make alterations, repairs, additions or the like which encroach into the fifteen-foot side yard setback, provided that such alterations, repairs, additions or the like do not encroach any closer to the side lot line than that of the existing dwelling.
[Added 6-7-1990 ATM by Art. 41]
D. 
Minimum open area requirements. See § 190-4 for the definition of "open area." Requirements are shown in Table 2.[1]
[1]
Editor's Note: The Table of Dimensional Regulations (Table 2) is included as an attachment to this chapter.
E. 
Exemptions to maximum height regulations. See § 190-4 for the definition of "height of building."
F. 
Traffic visibility at driveways and corners. A fence, hedge, wall, sign or other structure or vegetation may be maintained on any lot, provided that in the front yard area no such structure or vegetation shall be over 2 1/2 feet in height above the adjacent ground within five feet of the front lot line unless it can be shown that such vegetation or structure will not restrict visibility in such a way as to hinder the safe entry or exit of a vehicle from any driveway to the street or restrict visibility at a corner of two streets.
G. 
Screening and buffer strips in industrial, business, and multiple residence districts.
(1) 
Screening and buffer strips containing no buildings, parking areas or accessory uses shall be required in any industrial, business or multiple residence district which abuts a residential district. The minimum width of this strip shall be 15 feet, of which 10 feet shall not be paved.
(2) 
The strip shall contain a screen of plantings of vertical habit not less than three feet in width and four feet in height at the time of occupancy of such lot and shall grow to a minimum of four feet in width and five feet in height at maturity. Individual shrubs or trees shall be planted not more than 10 feet on center and shall thereafter be maintained by the owner or occupants so as to maintain a dense screen year round. At least 50% of the plantings shall consist of evergreens. A solid wall or fence, five feet in height, complemented by suitable plantings, may be substituted for such landscaped screen planting. No screen shall be closer than five feet to a public or private street right-of-way line.
H. 
Setback from open stream. In no case shall any building or structure be permitted within 50 feet of the embankment of any open stream, as defined by the Conservation Commission using the applicable Massachusetts Department of Environmental Quality Engineering standards.
I. 
(Reserved)[2]
[2]
Editor's Note: Former Subsection I, pertaining to gradient of driveways, added 11-12-1996 STM by Art. 17, was repealed 11-8-2004 RTM by Art. 30.
J. 
All lots in residential districts only shall have upland area equal to at least 75% of the required lot area.
[Added 4-5-1999 ATM by Art. 25]
K. 
No residential lot shall be substantially irregular in shape. For purposes of this provision, "substantially irregular" is defined as having a coefficient of regularity lower than 0.65 as determined by the formula:
r
=
16 A
p2
Where:
r
=
coefficient of regularity,
A
=
area of the lot in square feet,
p
=
perimeter of the lot in linear feet.
Upon approval of the Planning Board, the requirements of this section may be waived for any lot that can contain an inscribed shape meeting the requirements of minimum lot area and coefficient of regularity and when, in the opinion of the Planning Board, the lot satisfies the purpose of this section.
[Added 4-5-1999 ATM by Art. 26]
[Amended 11-15-2001 RTM by Art. 15; 11-8-2004 RTM by Arts. 33 and 34; 11-19-2015 RTM by Art. 12]
It is the intent of this section to encourage the development (in appropriate locations) of attractive, functional multifamily dwellings and mixed-use projects that create street-level, sidewalk activity that responds to the social and economic characteristics and needs of the present and future Wakefield. Mixed-use developments, including said dwellings in combination with other uses such as retail, outdoor and indoor dining, day care, educational and office uses that attract pedestrian activity and create walkable neighborhoods are desirable.
A. 
Where housing, whether mid-rise apartments, garden apartments, attached dwellings, or combinations of same are allowed by special permit, as provided in § 190-23, Table of Use Regulations, the Zoning Board of Appeals shall be the special permit granting authority.
(1) 
Mid-rise apartments, garden apartments, attached dwellings, or combinations of same may be combined with other uses, whether permitted by-right or by special permit within the zoning district, as provided in § 190-23, Table of Use Regulations, in a single building or group of buildings; however, the Zoning Board of Appeals shall determine whether the proposed combination of uses will or will not be detrimental to the project proposed or to the neighborhood. The Zoning Board of Appeals may deny or condition a § 190-32 special permit to protect the economic health and livability of the street and neighborhood where the proposed project is located.
(2) 
Notwithstanding § 190-13, § 190-94, § 190-95, and § 190-97, where the Table of Use Regulations, § 190-23, allows mid-rise apartments, garden apartments, or attached dwellings, the provisions of overlay districts shall not apply to special permits under this section.
B. 
Minimum lot size and density.
(1) 
The minimum lot size for a housing or mixed use project under this section is 4,000 square feet.
(2) 
Where housing, whether mid-rise apartments, garden apartments, attached dwellings, or combinations of same are proposed within walking distance of commuter rail stations (measured as a 2,500 foot radius from the commuter rail station's boarding area to the nearest lot line of the development parcel) a minimum of 750 square feet of lot area per unit is required. Otherwise a minimum of 1,200 square feet of lot area per unit is required.
(3) 
There is no additional lot area requirement for other uses, whether permitted by-right or by special permit within the zoning district, as provided in § 190-23, Table of Use Regulations.
C. 
Parking areas and open space for multifamily dwellings.
(1) 
No open parking or driveway shall be closer than 12 feet to a wall containing windows to habitable rooms of a dwelling unit which is on the ground floor or basement floor. This shall not apply, however, to the following: (i) to an individual driveway exclusively serving a single unit and/or dwelling or (ii) underground or structured parking.
(2) 
At least 30% of the total area of the multifamily dwelling complex shall be maintained as open area. (See § 190-4 for the definition of "open area".)
D. 
Summary of dimensional regulations for multifamily dwellings. The minimum dimensional controls for multifamily dwelling shall be as follows (minimum requirements in feet unless otherwise indicated):
Mid-Rise Apartment Complex
Garden Apartment or Attached Dwelling Complex
Individual Attached Dwellings
Lot coverage (maximum)
35%
35%
40%1
Open area
30%
30%
20%1
Lot frontage
180
150
18
Lot width
180
150
18
Height
Feet
50
35
30
Stories
5
3
2.5
Yards
Front
302
302
20
Side
302
302
None
Rear
302
302
20
Minimum number of attached units in a row
--
--
3
Distance between unattached buildings
503
503
--
Maximum number of attached units in a row
--
--
8
NOTES:
1Percent of exclusive use zone [see Subsection F(4)].
2Or height of building, whichever is greater.
3Or height of taller building, whichever is greater.
E. 
Parking and loading. The minimum parking and loading requirements shall be as specified in Article VII of this chapter.
F. 
Additional requirements.
[Amended 11-15-2001 RTM by Art. 15]
(1) 
There shall be a paved driveway or paved walk adequate to accommodate emergency vehicles within 50 feet of the outside entrance of each dwelling structure.
(2) 
Deleted.
(3) 
Individual attached dwellings may be sold as condominium units only and may not be sold as row houses with their own individual lots. Nothing in this subsection is meant to restrict the allocation of outdoor space adjacent to dwelling units for the exclusive use of the occupants of specific dwelling units.
(4) 
In attached dwelling developments, exclusive use zones for the exclusive use of occupants or individual dwelling units shall be shown on the site plan. The ground floor area of the dwelling units shall be shown on the site plan. The ground floor area of the dwelling unit plus the outdoor space allocated for the exclusive use of the dwelling unit shall make up the exclusive use zone. The ground floor of the building shall not occupy more than 40% of the exclusive use zone, and 20% of the exclusive use zone shall be outdoor open area not devoted to driveways or parking areas.
(5) 
No required parking areas for multifamily or attached dwellings shall be placed in the required front yard area of a multifamily or attached dwelling complex, except short-term or visitor parking, which shall not cover more than 40% of such area. This shall not apply, however, to a parking area in the form of a driveway exclusively serving a single unit and/or dwelling.
(6) 
The intent of this Subsection (6) is to increase the supply of housing in the Town of Wakefield that is permanently available to and affordable by low and moderate income households and to encourage a greater diversity of housing accommodations to meet the needs of families and other Wakefield residents; and developing and maintaining a satisfactory proportion of the Town's housing stock as affordable dwelling units. To that end, the Special Permit Granting Authority at the time of the granting of the special permit pursuant to § 190-32 shall require the applicant to provide affordable dwelling units equal in number to 18% of the total number of dwelling units provided on the sites which is the subject of the § 190-32 application. Affordable dwelling units shall be defined as dwelling units which count toward the Town of Wakefield's Massachusetts General Laws, Chapter 40B Subsidized Housing Inventory as the same may be amended from time to time. When the percentage calculation does not result in a whole number it shall be rounded to the nearest whole number, but not less than one. Thus if so required by the Special Permit Granting Authority,
[Amended 4-5-2004 ATM by Art. 13; 11-7-2005 RTM by Art. 9[1]]
(a) 
The applicant shall submit to the Special Permit Granting Authority, a use restriction or regulatory agreement that establishes an affordability restriction for the maximum period allowed by law for the designated affordable dwelling units. The applicant shall provide, when requested by the SPGA, (1) a copy of the application for a Local Initiative Project or similar program, acceptable to the SPGA, that allows the units be added to the Town's subsidized housing inventory under Massachusetts General Laws, Chapter 40B, as amended from time to time; (2) a complete draft regulatory agreement; and (3) a letter stating the site has been preliminarily approved by the Department of Housing and Community Development or successor agency. This is in order to ensure the long-term affordability of the designated affordable dwelling units. The applicant shall submit proof to the Special Permit Granting Authority that the use restriction or regulatory agreement was recorded at the Registry of Deeds prior to obtaining any building permit for the project;
(b) 
The use restriction or regulatory agreement selected by the applicant shall be subject to the approval of the Special Permit Granting Authority using the Department of Housing and Community Development Guidelines. The use restriction or regulatory agreement shall include a right of first refusal upon the transfer of such restricted units for the Town of Wakefield;
(c) 
The affordable dwelling units shall be integrated into the overall development or building in which they are situated so as to prevent the physical segregation of such units and their exterior appearance shall be designed to be indistinguishable from the market rate units in the same development or building;
(d) 
At the time of application, the applicant shall identify the floor areas of all units. The affordable dwelling units shall have the same number of bedrooms as the non-affordable dwelling units on a proportionate or pro-rata basis or they may have a smaller number of bedrooms if agreed to by the Special Permit Granting Authority.
(e) 
With the approval of the Special Permit Granting Authority, this affordable dwelling unit requirement may be met by placing some or all of the required affordable dwelling units on an alternative site or sites suitable for housing as solely determined by the Special Permit Granting Authority. Existing offsite units that are converted to affordable dwelling units shall not be counted in the total number of units for the purpose of determining the required number of affordable dwelling units. However, new offsite housing units created to satisfy the requirement for affordable dwelling units under this section, shall be considered part of the total number of units for the purpose of determining the total required number of affordable dwelling units. Offsite affordable dwelling units may be located in an existing structure, but, they must be units which are not already counted in the Town of Wakefield's Massachusetts General Laws, Chapter 40B Subsidized Housing Inventory, as amended, at the time of the application. Offsite affordable dwelling units provided through this provision shall comply, in all respects other than onsite location, with the requirements of this Subsection (6).
(f) 
The following requirement shall be a condition of special permits which require affordable dwelling units in order to prevent disproportionate number non-affordable dwelling units being occupied prior to the completion and occupancy of affordable dwelling units:
(i)
No market rate units exceeding 25% of the total shall be occupied unless 25% of the affordable dwelling units have been completed and occupancy permits issued therefor.
(ii)
No market rate units exceeding 50% of the total shall be occupied unless 50% of the affordable dwelling units have been completed and occupancy permits issued therefor.
(iii)
No market rate units exceeding 75% of the total shall be occupied unless 75% of the affordable dwelling units have been completed and occupancy permits issued therefor.
(iv)
No market rate units exceeding 95% of the total shall be occupied unless 100% of the affordable dwelling units have been completed and occupancy permits issued therefor.
[1]
Editor's Note: This article also provided that it shall not apply to any special permit decision signed by the Wakefield Planning Board prior to this Town Meeting Vote.
G. 
Conversions to apartments.
[Amended 5-3-2010 ATM by Art. 30]
(1) 
A single-family dwelling in the Single Residence District may be converted, within the existing building’s footprint and volume, to a two-family dwelling, provided that the dwelling contains nine or more rooms, was originally constructed prior to 1935 and is located on a lot of 12,000 square feet or more. In the Single Residence District, a special permit shall be required from the Board of Appeals.
[Amended 5-23-1994 ATM by Art. 39]
(2) 
A single- or two-family dwelling in the General Residence District or Business District may be converted, within the existing building’s footprint and volume, to a three- or four-family dwelling, provided that:
(a) 
The dwelling is located on a lot of 13,000 square feet or more.
(b) 
There shall be a minimum lot area of 3,500 square feet for each dwelling unit provided.
(c) 
There shall be a minimum floor area of 650 square feet for each dwelling unit provided.
(d) 
A special permit shall be obtained from the Board of Appeals. Conversions in the Business District shall be granted only if the Board of Appeals determines that the proposed residential use will not be detrimental to the economic health of the Business District and that the proposed location is a suitable residential environment.
(e) 
The conversion shall meet all building codes, fire, safety and health regulations and other sections of this chapter.
[Added 11-15-2001 RTM by Art. 16]
A. 
The Special Permit Granting Authority, as provided in § 190-32, may allow reductions and/or alterations in the dimensional controls for multifamily dwellings as required under § 190-32D and Table 2 (Table of Dimensional Regulations) of the Zoning Bylaw by special permit, according to procedure contained in Article VIII, and if it deems the reductions will enhance the multifamily project as a whole or allow it to benefit the neighborhood in which it is situated or the Town of Wakefield as a whole.
B. 
The Special Permit Granting Authority, as provided in § 190-32, may reduce the requirements of § 190-32F(3) by special permit, according to procedure contained in Article VIII, and if it deems the common open space is adequate to accommodate all of the units and/or dwellings.
[1]
Editor's Note: Former § 190-33, Cluster development, was repealed 11-8-2004 RTM by Art. 30. See now § 190-93, Open space development.
[Amended 4-13-2000 ATM by Art. 26]
A. 
The dimensional regulations set forth in this article applicable to every lot of land in the Municipal District shall be the same as the dimensional regulations applicable to the zoning district surrounding such lot of land as set forth in Table 2, the Table of Dimensional Regulations;[1] except that in the case of a lot of land in the Municipal District which is adjacent to two or more zoning districts, the dimensional regulations applicable to such lot of land shall be the same as the dimensional regulations applicable to the least-restrictive such adjacent zoning district.
[1]
Editor's Note: The Table of Dimensional Regulations is included at the end of this chapter.
B. 
Variation from the dimensional regulations of Article VI applicable to a particular lot of land in the Municipal District shall be allowed by a special permit granted by the special permit granting authority, according to the procedure contained in Article VIII.
[Added 11-12-1996 STM by Art. 15]
No lot on which any building is located shall be divided or subdivided in such a way that the original front yard of such existing building shall face the rear yard, as defined by this chapter, of any proposed lot or lots.