Town of Lexington, MA
Middlesex County
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Table of Contents
Table of Contents
9.1.1 
Building Commissioner. The Building Commissioner appointed under the provisions of MGL c. 143 and Chapter 753 of the Acts of 1968, as amended, is hereby designated and authorized as the officer charged with the interpretation and enforcement of this bylaw.
9.1.2 
Violations. If the Building Commissioner is informed or has reason to believe that any provision of this bylaw is being violated, he/she shall make or cause to be made an investigation of the facts and inspect the property where such violation may exist.
9.1.3 
Enforcement. If upon such investigation and inspection he/she finds evidence of such violation, he/she shall give notice thereof in writing to the owner and occupant of said premises and demand that such violation be abated within such time as the Building Commissioner deems reasonable. Such notice and demand may be given by mail, addressed to the owner at his address as it then appears on the records of the Board of Assessors of the Town and to the occupant at the address of the premises.
9.1.4 
Further Action. If after such notice and demand the violation has not been abated within the time specified therein, the Building Commissioner shall institute appropriate action or proceedings in the name of the Town of Lexington to prevent, correct, restrain or abate such violation of this bylaw.
9.1.5 
Penalty. Anyone who violates a provision of this bylaw, or any condition of a variance, site plan review decision or special permit, shall be punishable by a fine of not more than $300 for each offense. Each day during which any portion of a violation continues under the provisions of this section shall constitute a separate offense.
9.2.1 
Establishment. There shall be a Board of Appeals of five members appointed by the Selectmen for five-year terms. The Selectmen shall also appoint six associate members of the Board of Appeals. The appointment, service and removal or replacement of members and associate members and other actions of the Board of Appeals shall be as provided for in MGL c. 40A.
9.2.2 
Powers. The Board of Appeals shall have and exercise all the powers granted to it by MGL Chapters 40A, 40B, and 41 and by this bylaw, including but not limited to the following:
1. 
To hear and decide applications for special permits when designated as the SPGA herein.
2. 
To grant, upon appeal or petition, with respect to particular land or structures or to an existing building thereon, a variance from the terms of this bylaw where, owing to circumstances relating to the soil conditions, shape or topography of such land or structures and owing to conditions especially affecting such parcel or such building but not affecting generally the zoning district in which it is located, a literal enforcement of the provisions of this bylaw would involve substantial hardship, financial or otherwise, to the appellant, and where desirable relief may be granted without substantial detriment to the public good and without nullifying or substantially derogating from the intent or purpose of this bylaw. The Board of Appeals shall not grant use variances.
3. 
To hear and decide appeals taken by any person aggrieved by reason of his inability to obtain a permit or enforcement action from any administrative officer under the provisions of MGL c. 40A §§ 8 and 15 or by any person including an officer or board of the Town aggrieved by an order or decision of the Building Commissioner or other administrative official in violation of any provision of Chapter 40A or of this bylaw.
4. 
To hear and decide comprehensive permits for construction of low or moderate-income housing by a public agency or limited dividend or nonprofit corporation, as set forth in MGL c. 40B, §§ 20 to 23.
9.2.3 
Rules and Regulations. The Board of Appeals may adopt rules and regulations for the administration of its powers.
9.2.4 
Fees. The Board of Appeals may adopt reasonable technical review fees for petitions for special permits, variances, administrative appeals, and applications for comprehensive permits in accordance with its regulations.
9.3.1 
Establishment. Pursuant to MGL c. 41 and Chapter 753 of the Acts of 1968, there shall be a Planning Board of five elected members.
9.3.2 
Powers. The Planning Board shall have and exercise all the powers granted to it by MGL Chapters 40, 40A and 41 and by this bylaw, including but not limited to the following:
1. 
To hear and decide applications for special permits when designated as the SPGA herein.
2. 
To review site plans pursuant to § 9.5.
9.3.3 
Associate Member. The Planning Board shall elect an associate member to serve for one year, or until replaced. In the case where the Planning Board is the SPGA, the Chairman of the Planning Board may have the associate member sit on the Board for the purpose of acting on a special permit application, in the case of absence, inability to act, or conflict of interest on the part of any member of the Planning Board or in the event of a vacancy on the Board.
9.3.4 
Rules and Regulations. The Planning Board shall adopt rules and regulations not inconsistent with the provisions of the Zoning Bylaw for conduct of its business and otherwise carrying out the purposes of said Chapter 40A and this bylaw, and shall file a copy of such rules in the office of the Town Clerk.
9.3.5 
Fees. The Planning Board may adopt reasonable administrative fees and technical review fees for applications for special permits and site plan approval in accordance with its regulations.
9.4.1 
Special Permit Granting Authority (SPGA). The special permit granting authority (SPGA), as designated herein, may, in its discretion, grant a special permit for a use, building, structure, sign, off-street parking or loading, modification of dimensional standards, screening or landscaping, or other activity where it would not otherwise be permitted but only in those cases where this bylaw specifically refers to a change from the provisions of this bylaw by the granting of a special permit and only in those cases where the SPGA makes the finding and determination set forth in that Section and this § 9.4, if applicable. An applicant is not entitled to a special permit and the SPGA, in its discretion, may decline to grant a special permit if it is unable to make a positive finding and determination as required in § 9.4.2. The Zoning Board of Appeals shall serve as the SPGA, except as set forth below:
1. 
The Planning Board shall serve as the SPGA for:
[Amended 3-23-2016 ATM by Art. 38]
a. 
All special permits pursuant to § 6.9, Special Permit Residential Developments.
b. 
All special permits in the Governmental-Civic Use (GC) District; and
c. 
When an activity or use requires both site plan review and one or more special permits, except for a wireless communication facility.[1]
[1]
Editor's Note: Former § 9.4.1.2, which stated that the Board of Selectmen shall serve as SPGA for the conversion of municipal buildings in RD Districts, was repealed 4-25-2016 ATM by Art. 44.
9.4.2 
Criteria. Special permits shall be granted by the SPGA, unless otherwise specified herein, only upon its written determination that the adverse effects of the proposed use will not outweigh its beneficial impacts to the Town or the neighborhood, in view of the particular characteristics of the site, and of the proposal in relation to that site. The determination shall include consideration of each of the following:
1. 
Specific factors set forth elsewhere in this bylaw for the proposed use or activity;
2. 
Social, economic, or community needs which are served by the proposal;
3. 
Traffic flow and safety, including parking and loading;
4. 
Adequacy of utilities and other public services;
5. 
Neighborhood character and social structures;
6. 
Impacts on the natural environment; and
7. 
Potential fiscal impact, including impact on Town services, tax base, and employment.
9.4.3 
Conditions for Approval of a Special Permit. In addition to the conditions, standards and criteria as may be set forth in the section of this bylaw that refers to the granting of the special permit, the SPGA may impose additional conditions and limitations as it deems necessary to ensure that the finding and determination that it must make under § 9.4.2 are complied with, including but not limited to:
1. 
Dimensional standards more restrictive than those set forth in § 135-4.0;
2. 
Screening or landscaping of principal or accessory uses from view from adjoining lots or from a street, by planting, walls, fences or other devices; planting of larger planting strips, with more or larger plant materials or higher walls or fences than that required in § 5.3;
3. 
Modification of the exterior features or appearance of a building or structure;
4. 
Limitations on the size, number of occupants or employees, method or hours of operation, extent of facilities or other operating characteristics of a use;
5. 
Regulation of the number, design and location of access drives or other traffic features of the proposed use;
6. 
Provision of a greater number of off-street parking spaces or loading bays, and with greater yard setbacks, landscaping and screening than the minimum standards set forth in § 5.1;
7. 
Limitations on the number, location, type and size of signs or illumination, or modification of the design features thereof;
8. 
Limitations on construction activities, such as but not limited to, the hours during which construction activity may take place, the movement of trucks or heavy equipment on or off the site, and measures to control dirt, dust, and erosion and to protect existing vegetation on the site;
9. 
Requirements for independent monitoring, at the expense of the applicant, and reporting to the Building Commissioner, if necessary to ensure continuing compliance with the conditions of a special permit or of this bylaw;
10. 
Limitations on the period of time the special permit shall be in effect; and
11. 
Such other limitation as may be reasonably related to reducing any adverse impact on, or increasing the compatibility of the proposed use, structure or activity with, the surrounding area.
9.4.4 
Procedures. An application for a special permit shall be filed in accordance with the rules and regulations of the SPGA.
9.4.5 
Security for Special Permits.
1. 
General. The SPGA, as a condition of granting a special permit, may require that the performance of the conditions and observance of the safeguards of such special permit be secured by one, or in part by one and in part by the other, of the methods described in the following provisions. The SPGA shall administer this securing of performance by either:
a. 
A proper bond or a deposit of money or negotiable securities or letter of credit, sufficient in the opinion of the SPGA to secure performance of the conditions and observance of the safeguards of such special permit; or,
b. 
A covenant running with the land, executed and duly recorded by the owner of record, whereby the conditions and safeguards included in such special permit shall be performed before any lot may be conveyed other than by mortgage deed. Nothing herein shall be deemed to prohibit a conveyance by a single deed, subject to such covenant of the entire parcel of land, the development of which is governed by the special permit.
2. 
Reduction of security. Until completion of the development the penal sum of any deposit or security held under § 9.4 may from time to time be reduced by the SPGA to an amount not less than 15% of the value of work originally estimated.
3. 
Release of security. Upon the completion of the development or upon performance of the conditions and safeguards imposed by such special permit, security for the performance of which was given, the applicant shall send by registered mail to the SPGA an affidavit that the conditions and safeguards in connection with which such security has been given have been complied with. If the SPGA determines that the conditions and safeguards of the special permit have been complied with, it shall release the interest of the Town in such security, return or release the security to the person who furnished the same, or release the covenant by appropriate instrument, duly acknowledged. If the SPGA determines that the conditions or safeguards included in the special permit have not been complied with, it shall specify the conditions or safeguards with which the applicant has not complied in a notice sent by registered or certified mail to the applicant.
4. 
Failure to act. If the SPGA fails to send such a notice within 60 days after it receives the applicant's affidavit, all obligations under the security shall cease and terminate, any deposit shall be returned and any such covenant become void.
5. 
Failure to complete work. Upon failure of the applicant to complete such work to the satisfaction of the SPGA and in accordance with all applicable plans, regulations and specifications, the Town shall be entitled to enforce such bond or to realize upon such securities to the extent necessary to complete all such work without delay.
9.4.6 
Lapse. Special permits shall lapse if a substantial use thereof or construction thereunder has not begun, except for good cause, within 24 months following the filing of the special permit approval (plus such time required to pursue or await the determination of an appeal referred to in MGL c. 40A, § 17, from the grant thereof) with the Town Clerk.
9.5.1 
Purpose. Site plan review is a means of managing the aesthetics and environmental impacts of land use by the regulation of permitted uses, not their prohibition. Its purpose is to assure protection of the public interest consistent with a reasonable use of the site for the purposes permitted in the district.
9.5.2 
Applicability. The following types of activities and uses require site plan review by the Planning Board or its designee:
1. 
Where required elsewhere in this bylaw, exterior construction or expansion of a structure resulting in an increase of 500 SF or greater of total building gross floor area or an increase in 500 SF or greater of site coverage.
[Amended 3-25-2015 ATM by Art. 51]
2. 
Any changes to an approved site plan.
9.5.3 
Coordination with Special Permit.
1. 
Where an activity or use requires both site plan review and one or more special permits the Planning Board shall be the SPGA.
2. 
When both a special permit and site plan review are required, they shall be considered together under the provisions of § 9.4.
9.5.4 
Procedures for Site Plan Review.
1. 
Applicants shall submit an application for site plan review to the Planning Board.
2. 
The Planning Board shall promulgate, after public notice and hearing, Zoning Regulations to effectuate the purposes and intent of this provision of this bylaw, including definitions of major and minor site plans and delegating administrative review to the Board's designee that will allow site plan review without a public meeting for minor site plans.
[Amended 3-23-2016 ATM by Art. 37]
3. 
A public meeting shall be required for all major site plans. The meeting will be advertised in the local newspaper once in each of two successive weeks prior to the meeting and a notice will be sent to landowners within 300 feet of the affected lot.
4. 
The Planning Board or its designee shall review and act upon the site plan, requiring such conditions as necessary to satisfy the Review Standards, and notify the applicant of its decision. The decision shall be in writing and shall be rendered within 60 days of the date of application.
5. 
The applicant may request, and the Planning Board may grant by majority vote as constituted, an extension of the time limits set forth herein.
6. 
The applicant shall satisfy or comply with all conditions of the site plan review decision prior to the issuance of a building permit except for those conditions that by their terms are intended to be satisfied during construction or later.
7. 
Unless specifically authorized by the terms of the site plan review decision, a final certificate of occupancy shall not be issued until the applicant has complied with or satisfied all conditions of the site plan review decision.
9.5.5 
Review Standards. The Planning Board in its regulations shall establish standards for site plan review of activities and uses not covered by § 9.5.6 that will at a minimum address the following:
[Amended 4-10-2019 ATM by Art. 39]
1. 
Siting of facilities;
2. 
Design practices;
3. 
Open space and natural features;
4. 
Circulation;
5. 
Water quality;
6. 
Town character and historic significance;
7. 
Impacts on public services and facilities;
8. 
Signage;
9. 
Safety;
10. 
Energy efficient site design;
11. 
Potential adverse effects.
9.5.6 
Limited Review Standards.
[Added 4-10-2019 ATM by Art. 39]
1. 
The Planning Board in its Zoning Regulations shall establish reasonable standards for site plan review of educational, religious, and child care uses protected under MGL c. 40A, § 3.
2. 
The standards shall not be more restrictive than those applied to activities and uses under § 9.5.5.
3. 
The standards shall address only the following areas. No applicant shall be required to file any documents not related to these areas.
a. 
Bulk and height of structures;
b. 
Yard sizes and setbacks;
c. 
Lot area;
d. 
Open space;
e. 
Parking; and
f. 
Building coverage.
4. 
The Planning Board or its designee shall waive any standards which are not reasonable as applied in a particular case or which effectively prohibit the protected use.
5. 
The Planning Board or its designee may impose reasonable conditions necessary to satisfy the standards not waived.
6. 
Notwithstanding any other provision of this chapter, the use of land or structures for educational purposes by the Lexington Public Schools on land owned or leased by the Town of Lexington or Lexington Public Schools shall not be subject to site plan review pursuant to § 9.5.