Town of Belchertown, MA
Hampshire County
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Table of Contents
Table of Contents

§ 145-25 Home occupations.

A. 
Intent. It is the intent of this section to allow home occupations which are and will continue to be clearly incidental and secondary to the principal use of the dwelling unit or the permitted accessory structure. The essential component of a home occupation is that it does not detract from the character of the existing land use.
B. 
Purpose. The purpose of this section is to allow as a permitted use, upon the issuance of a zoning permit, home occupations which comply with the standards set forth below. The purposes of these standards are to assist in ensuring the residential characteristics of the neighborhoods in which home occupations are located.
C. 
Procedure.
(1) 
Home occupations are permitted by a zoning permit issued upon application to the Zoning Enforcement Officer.
(2) 
The Zoning Enforcement Officer shall issue a zoning permit only after making a determination that the application conforms to the standards in Subsection D.
(3) 
Home occupation applications that exceed the standards may be permitted by the Board of Appeals in accordance with § 145-69 and in accordance with Subsection E.
D. 
Standards.
(1) 
The home occupation's operator must live on the premises.
(2) 
The occupation shall only be conducted within the enclosed area of a dwelling unit or a permitted accessory structure.
(3) 
No storage of materials, goods, supplies or equipment related to the occupation shall be visible from the outside of any structure of the premises.
(4) 
Signs shall comply with § 145-22.
(5) 
No use shall alter the appearance of structures which would cause the premises to differ from its residential character.
(6) 
Only residents of the premises may be employed.
(7) 
Parking shall comply with § 145-23.
(8) 
No space within the dwelling unit or accessory structure larger than 300 square feet shall be used for home occupations.
(9) 
No occupation which would necessitate a fire rating of the structure to be greater than one hour shall be permitted.
E. 
Uses which may be permitted by the Board of Appeals in accordance with the regulations appearing in § 145-69 of this chapter:
(1) 
In Village Residential, Lakes Residential and Agricultural-B Districts, clerical help on a part-time basis, no more than a total of 20 hours per week.
(2) 
In the Agricultural-A District, no more than one full-time nonresident employee.

§ 145-26 Estate lots. [1]

A. 
The purpose of this regulation is to allow for the creation of lots for single-dwelling units by right and two-, three- and four-dwelling units by special permit with less than the required frontage in exchange for increased square footage, for the purposes of preservation of open space and decreasing density in given areas.
B. 
No dwelling unit shall be erected on a lot unless a circle 50 feet in diameter can be passed along a continuous line from the frontage of the lot to any point of the proposed dwelling on the lot without the circumference intersecting any side lot lines.
C. 
No more than two consecutive estate lots shall be located on a public way.
D. 
The estate lot entrance/driveway shall be clearly designated with a house number sign, not to exceed six square feet. Mailboxes shall not suffice. The sign permit shall be issued with the building permit.
E. 
Front yard setback refers to the minimum required distance between the dwelling unit and the public way. Secondary front yard setback refers to the minimum required distance between the dwelling unit and the rearmost property line of the lot between the estate lot and the public way.
F. 
Estate lots are permitted in the following districts: Village Residential, Lakes Residential, Agricultural-A and Agricultural-B.
Estate Lot Diagram
A = Front yard setback: 160 feet.
B = Secondary front yard setback: 40 feet.
C = Side yard setback: 60 feet.
D = Rear yard setback: 40 feet.
[1]
Editor's Note: See the Estate Lot Diagram included at the end of this section.

§ 145-27 Site plan approval.

[Amended 3-20-1995 STM by Art. 15; 5-13-1996 ATM by Art. 23; 5-13-2002 ATM by Art. 21; 5-9-2011 ATM by Art. 16]
A. 
Purpose. The purpose of site plan approval is to ensure that the design and layout of new developments comply with the purpose and intent of this chapter, result in attractive and viable growth, and are not detrimental to the neighborhood, environment or community.
B. 
Project requiring site plan approval.
(1) 
No special permit or building permit shall be issued for any of the following uses unless a site plan has been endorsed by the Planning Board in accord with Subsection D(3)(a), after consultation with other boards, including but not limited to the following: Board of Selectmen, Board of Health, Conservation Commission, Department of Public Works, Town Consulting Engineer, Belchertown Water District (if applicable), other water or sewer districts (if applicable), Historical Commission, Fire Department and Police Department:
(a) 
New construction or exterior additions to a commercial structure;
(b) 
New construction or exterior additions to an industrial structure;
(c) 
New construction or exterior additions to a multiple-dwelling structure in a Multiple-Dwelling Residential District (MDR);
(d) 
Construction or expansion of a parking lot for a municipal, institutional, commercial, business, industrial or multifamily structure or use; or
(e) 
Any other use specified in § 145-11, Schedule of Use Regulations, which indicates that site plan approval is required.
(2) 
The Planning Board may waive any of the procedures in Subsection D or site plan contents in Subsection E as long as such action is in the public interest and not inconsistent with the purpose and intent of this chapter.
C. 
Exemptions from site plan approval. Site plan approval shall not be required for:
(1) 
The construction or enlargement of any single-family or two-family dwelling or building accessory to such dwelling;
(2) 
The construction or alteration of any building used exclusively for agriculture, horticulture or floriculture;
(3) 
Construction or alteration providing for not more than 200 square feet of total floor area after construction;
(4) 
Customary home occupations as described in § 145-25 of this chapter.
D. 
Procedures for site plan approval.
(1) 
A review fee shall be charged for each site plan approval application in order to cover expenses connected with processing, review and any public meeting costs associated with the review of the site plan. The fee charged shall be noted on a schedule of Planning Board fees available in the Planning office and the Town Clerk's office. The fee shall be sufficient to cover the costs of advertisement and mailings and outside professional consultants, including but not limited to engineering, planning, architectural and/or legal consultants, for each application proposing construction or alteration, or for each modification or alteration of an approved site plan. The full cost of any Town engineering or planning consultant services shall be paid by the applicant before any site plan approval becomes effective.
(2) 
Each application for site plan approval shall contain the current owner of record's signed permission and shall be accompanied by 10 copies of the site plan, 12 copies if review by a Water District is necessary. Failure of boards and officials to make recommendations to the Planning Board within 14 days of the application filing date shall be deemed to be a lack of opposition. Any board or official may waive the fourteen-day period by so indicating on the application.
(3) 
Period of review.
(a) 
All applications for site plan approval shall be reviewed and acted upon by the Planning Board. For site plan approval applications that coincide with a special permit to be decided by the Planning Board, the schedule and requirements of the special permit determination shall apply. A separate public hearing for a simultaneous site plan approval application is not required. When another board is the special permit granting authority, the Planning Board shall not require an additional separate public hearing. For site plan applications that do not require a special permit, the Planning Board shall, within 35 days of the application filing date, take final action in accordance with Subsection G or make a determination pursuant to Subsection D(3)(b) that a public hearing is necessary. If a public hearing is determined to be necessary, the schedule and requirements of a special permit shall apply.
(b) 
The Planning Board may determine that a public hearing for a site plan is necessary when the proposed use or uses would:
[1] 
Affect traffic circulation adversely.
[2] 
Affect environmental resources, such as surfacewater or groundwaters.
[3] 
Result in extensive earth removal and change of grades.
[4] 
Affect significantly the capacity of public infrastructure, such as sewer or water service provision.
E. 
Required site plan contents.
(1) 
All site plans shall be prepared by an architect, landscape architect or professional engineer licensed in Massachusetts on standard twenty-four-inch by thirty-six-inch sheets, unless these requirements are waived by the Planning Board. Site plans shall be prepared at a sufficient scale to show:
(a) 
The location and boundaries of the lot, adjacent streets and ways and the location and owners' names of all adjacent properties.
(b) 
Existing and proposed topography, including contours, the location of wetlands, streams, water bodies, drainage swales, areas subject to flooding and unique natural features.
(c) 
Existing and proposed structures, including dimensions and elevations, and a set of architectural renderings and materials lists for proposed construction consistent with § 145-41 (Commercial development and architectural design).
[Amended 5-12-2014 ATM by Art. 20]
(d) 
The location of parking and loading areas, driveways, walkways and access and egress points.
(e) 
The location and description of all proposed septic systems, water supply, storm drainage systems, utilities and other waste disposal and storage methods.
(f) 
Existing and proposed stormwater runoff calculations and control plan.
(g) 
Proposed landscape features, including the location and description of screening, fencing and plantings.
(h) 
The location, dimensions, height and characteristics of proposed signs.
(i) 
The location and a description of proposed open or recreation areas.
(2) 
The plan shall describe estimated daily and peak-hour vehicle trips to be generated by the site and traffic flow patterns for vehicles and pedestrians showing adequate access to and from the site and adequate circulation within the site. A detailed traffic generation statement is required for uses that would add 40 or more peak-hour trips.
(3) 
A plan for the control of erosion, dust, and silt, both during and after construction sequencing, temporary and permanent erosion control, and protection of water bodies.
(4) 
The Planning Board may require additional information to adequately evaluate the proposed site plan.
F. 
Site plan approval criteria guidelines.
(1) 
The following guidelines shall be used as criteria by the aforementioned boards and officials noted in Subsection B(1) in the review and evaluation of a site plan, consistent with a reasonable use of the site for the purposes permitted or permissible by the regulations of the district in which it is located:
(a) 
If the proposal requires a special permit, it must conform to the special permit requirements as listed in § 145-69 of this chapter.
(b) 
The development shall be integrated into the existing terrain and surrounding landscape and shall be designed to protect abutting properties and community amenities. Building sites shall, to the extent feasible:
[1] 
Minimize use of wetlands, steep slopes, floodplains and hilltops;
[2] 
Minimize obstruction of scenic views from publicly accessible locations;
[3] 
Preserve unique natural or historic features;
[4] 
Minimize tree, vegetation and soil removal and grade changes;
[5] 
Maximize open space retention; and
[6] 
Screen objectionable features, such as lighting, utility structures, outdoor storage or other such features, from neighboring properties and roadways.
(c) 
The development shall be served with adequate water supply and waste disposal systems. "Adequate" means the development shall not place an excessive demand on public infrastructure and resources.
(d) 
The plan shall maximize the convenience and safety of vehicular and pedestrian movement within the site and in relation to adjacent ways.
(e) 
The site plan shall show adequate measures to prevent pollution of surface water or groundwater, to minimize erosion and sedimentation and to prevent changes in groundwater levels, increased runoff and potential for flooding. Drainage shall be designed so that runoff shall not be increased, groundwater recharge is maximized and neighboring properties will not be adversely affected.
(f) 
Exposed storage areas, machinery, service areas, truck loading areas, utility buildings and structures and other unsightly uses shall be set back or screened to protect the neighbors from these objectionable features.
(g) 
In all cases, setback and dimensions as described in Article V of the Zoning Bylaw must be honored and cannot be waived. The site plan shall comply with all zoning requirements for parking, loading and environmental performance standards and all provisions of this chapter. However, strict compliance with any zoning bylaw governing any individual aspect of a site plan, other than setbacks and dimensions, may be waived by the Planning Board where such action is in not detrimental to the public good. In such cases, any waiver on a site plan with approval from the Planning Board supersedes the individual bylaw governing the waiver. If the applicant requests a waiver, it is incumbent upon the applicant to demonstrate the viability of the proposed waiver. The Planning Board reserves the right to request a waiver when the Board deems it appropriate, even if the applicant does not request a waiver.
(h) 
The site plan shall demonstrate compliance with § 145-41 (Commercial development and architectural design).
[Added 5-12-2014 ATM by Art. 20]
(2) 
Before approval of a site plan, the Planning Board may request the applicant to make modifications in the proposed design of the project to ensure that the above criteria are met.
G. 
Final action.
(1) 
The Planning Board's final action shall consist of either:
(a) 
A determination that the proposed project meets the criteria of Subsection F for site plan approval, stating the specific manner and criteria in which the proposed project conforms to this chapter;
(b) 
A written denial of the application stating the reasons by which the submitted application and site plan are incomplete for sufficient review by the Planning Board and/or its agents; or
(c) 
Approval subject to any conditions, modifications and restrictions as the Planning Board may deem necessary.
(2) 
The Planning Board's decision shall be sent by certified mail to the applicant and shall be filed with the Town Clerk within seven days of the date of the final determination by the Planning Board pertaining to any such plan approval. A copy shall also be sent to the Building Inspector/Zoning Enforcement Officer.
H. 
Enforcement.
(1) 
Security for incomplete work. The Planning Board may require the posting of a performance guaranty, in the form of a deposit of money made out to the Town of Belchertown or a bond, in an amount determined by the Planning Board to be sufficient to cover the costs of all or any part of the improvements required per the approved site plan and outstanding conditions affecting public facilities, such as roads or drainage, or public health, safety or general welfare. The Planning Board, through the action of the Zoning Enforcement Officer, may suspend any license or permit when work is not performed as required. The security or guaranty is to ensure that the incomplete work is completed within a reasonable time. The Planning Board shall establish a deadline for completion of not more than one year from the posting of the security. This allowance is subject to the review by the Planning Board by a site inspection to ensure the safety and health for those who occupy the structure and use the site. If the Planning Board requires a performance guaranty, the guaranty must be posted before the site plan may be approved.
Each site plan must include a total construction estimate with an inflation factor added to it. Security is to be provided to cover all work involving public property, all drainage and stormwater structures, and additional amounts to cover any health and safety hazards resulting from incomplete work on the site.
The Planning Board must sign a certificate of completion for any security or guaranty to be released.
(2) 
Certificate of occupancy. No occupancy permit shall be issued for any building or structure, or portion thereof, until the Building Inspector receives certification from a registered architect, landscape architect, engineer or land surveyor, that all construction (including utilities) has been done in accordance with the approved site plan (not required for site plans for structures less than 5,000 square feet). The Building Inspector may issue a conditional certificate of occupancy to allow a tenant to operate before full site completion, but this is issued at the tenant's and property owner's risk of rescission in the event that the site work is incomplete by the required date. The Building Inspector and Planning Board shall require a performance guaranty to cover any unfinished site items shown on the approved site plan during the conditional occupancy.
I. 
Modification of an approved site plan.
(1) 
In the event that the applicant desires to alter, modify or correct an approved site plan, the applicant shall provide the Planning Board with:
(a) 
A written statement, signed by the applicant and property owner, requesting such changes;
(b) 
Seven prints of the original approved site plan with the changes drawn on said plan in red; and
(c) 
Other documentation deemed necessary by the Board for its review of the proposed modification.
(2) 
Minor amendments to an approved site plan may be granted by the Planning Board, upon application and for good cause shown, and shall be acted upon under the procedures applicable to initial approval of a site plan. The Board may require a public hearing in accordance with the provisions of Subsection D(3) if it considers the proposed modification to be potentially detrimental to the neighborhood, community or environment.
(3) 
The Planning Board shall file its decision on the alteration, modification or corrections to an approved site plan with the Town Clerk and send a copy by certified mail to the applicant. The Planning Board shall notify the Building Inspector/Zoning Enforcement Officer of its site plan amendment decision.
J. 
Appeals and expiration.
(1) 
Decisions on site plan applications reviewed by the Planning Board may be appealed to the Zoning Board of Appeals in accordance with § 145-68A of this chapter and with MGL c. 40A, §§ 8 and 15. Decisions on site plans reviewed by a special permit granting authority as part of a special permit application may be appealed to the appropriate Massachusetts trial court in accordance with MGL c. 40A, § 17.
(2) 
Site plan approval issued under this section shall expire within two years if a substantial use thereof is not commenced, except for good cause.

§ 145-28 Commercial solar photovoltaic installations. [1]

[Added 5-14-2012 ATM by Art. 26]
A. 
Purpose. This section is to encourage the use of solar energy systems and protect solar access consistent with MGL 40A, § 9B, and with the Green Communities Act in MGL c. 25A, § 10, to increase our local renewable energy production, to decrease our reliance on fossil fuels to produce electricity, and to improve local air quality.
This promotion of commercial solar photovoltaic installations is to be accomplished pursuant to the standards set forth herein for the placement, design, construction, operation, monitoring, modification and removal of such installations that address public safety, scenic, natural and historic resources and provide adequate financial assurance for the eventual decommissioning of such installations.
B. 
Applicability. This section applies to large-scale (minimum 250 kW rated nameplate capacity) solar photovoltaic installations proposed to be constructed after the effective date of this section. This section also pertains to physical modifications that materially alter the type, configuration, or size of these installations or related equipment. The requirements of this section shall apply to a commercial solar photovoltaic installation regardless of whether it is the primary use of property or an accessory use.
(1) 
As-of-right: A commercial solar photovoltaic installation, as defined herein, is allowed as-of-right in all zoning districts except as set forth below.
(2) 
Special permit: Under the following conditions, a commercial solar photovoltaic installation may be permitted by special permit from the Planning Board:
(a) 
Any such installation proposed in the VR, MDR, MHP and LR Zones.
(b) 
Any such installation requiring land clearing of two acres or more.
(c) 
Any such installation with generation of three mW or more.
(d) 
A commercial solar photovoltaic installation proposed for sites without street frontage. Sites with no frontage must demonstrate deeded rights-of-way to the site and utility access for the duration of the site's use for solar energy production. Lack of legal and physical access via a legal right-of-way or easement shall be cause for denial of a special permit.
For all special permit applications, site plan approval as described below is required, but shall not require a second public hearing, per § 145-27D(3)(a).
C. 
Definitions.
COMMERCIAL SOLAR PHOTOVOLTAIC INSTALLATION (CSPI)
Any solar photovoltaic installation with 250 kW or greater rated nameplate capacity, even if its primary generation is not intended for supplying the grid.
RATED NAMEPLATE CAPACITY
The maximum rated output of electric power production of the commercial solar photovoltaic installation in direct current (DC).
SITE PLAN APPROVAL AUTHORITY
The site plan approval authority as designated by the Zoning Bylaw.
SOLAR PHOTOVOLTAIC ARRAY
An arrangement of solar photovoltaic panels.
D. 
Requirements.
(1) 
Site plan approval. The construction, installation or modification of a CSPI, whether as-of-right or by special permit, shall be subject to site plan approval in accordance with the zoning bylaws. Together with the requirements of § 145-27, the site plan approval authority shall consider and apply the requirements set forth in this section in reviewing and deciding an application for site plan approval.
(a) 
General. All plans and maps shall be prepared, stamped and signed by a professional engineer licensed to practice in Massachusetts.
(b) 
Required documents. The project proponent shall provide the following documents:
[1] 
A site plan showing:
[a] 
Property lines and physical features, including roads, for the project site;
[b] 
Proposed changes to the landscape of the site, grading, vegetation clearing and planting, exterior lighting, screening vegetation or structures;
[c] 
Blueprints or drawings of the solar photovoltaic installation signed by a professional engineer licensed to practice in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts showing the proposed layout of the system and any potential shading from nearby structures;
[d] 
One or three line electrical diagram detailing the solar photovoltaic installation, associated components, and electrical interconnection methods, with all National Electrical Code compliant disconnects and overcurrent devices;
[e] 
Documentation of the major system components to be used, including the PV panels, mounting system, and inverter;
[f] 
Name, address, and contact information for proposed system installer;
[g] 
Name, address, phone number and signature of the project proponent, as well as all co-proponents or property owners, if any;
[h] 
The name, contact information and signature of any agents representing the project proponent; and
[2] 
Documentation of actual or prospective access and control of the project site [Subsection D(2) below];
[3] 
An operation and maintenance plan [Subsection D(3) below];
[4] 
Proof of liability insurance; and
[5] 
Description of financial surety that satisfies Subsection D(9)(b).
The site plan approval authority may waive documentary requirements as it deems appropriate.
(2) 
Site control. The project proponent shall submit documentation of actual or committed prospective access and control of the project site sufficient to allow for construction and operation of the proposed CSPI.
(3) 
Operation and maintenance plan. The project proponent shall submit a plan for the operation and maintenance of the CSPI. This plan shall include measures to maintain safe access to the installation, stormwater controls, and general procedures for operational maintenance of the installation. The development is subject to the Belchertown Stormwater Bylaw and regulations.
(4) 
Utility notification. No CSPI shall be constructed until evidence has been given to the site plan approval authority that the utility company operating the electrical grid the installation is to be connected to has been informed of the CSPI owner or operator's intent to install an interconnected customer-owned generator. Off-grid systems shall be exempt from this requirement.
(5) 
Dimension and density requirements.
(a) 
Setbacks. For all CSPI, front, side and rear yard setbacks shall be as follows:
[1] 
The front yard depth shall be at least 75 feet;
[2] 
The side yard depth shall be at least 75 feet;
[3] 
The rear yard depth shall be at least 75 feet;
(b) 
Appurtenant structures. All appurtenant structures to a CSPI shall be subject to the requirements of the Zoning Bylaw concerning the bulk and height of structures, lot area, setbacks, open space, parking and building coverage requirements. All such appurtenant structures, including, but not limited to, equipment shelters, storage facilities, transformers, and substations, shall be architecturally compatible with each other. Whenever reasonable, structures should be shaded from view by vegetation.
(6) 
Design standards.
(a) 
Lighting. Lighting of CSPIs shall be limited to night time maintenance and inspections by authorized personnel, and shall comply with Dark Sky standards.
(b) 
Signage. A sign shall be erected identifying the owner and providing a twenty-four-hour emergency contact phone number. CSPIs shall not display any advertising. Any sign must comply with § 145-22.
(c) 
Utility connections. Reasonable efforts shall be made to place all utility connections from the CSPI underground, depending on appropriate soil conditions, shape, and topography of the site and any requirements of the utility provider. Electrical transformers for utility interconnections may be aboveground if required by the utility provider.
(7) 
Safety and environmental standards.
(a) 
Emergency services. The CSPI owner or operator shall provide a copy of the project summary, electrical schematic, and an approved site plan to the local fire department and the Building Inspector. Upon request, the owner or operator shall cooperate with local emergency services in developing an emergency response plan, which may include ensuring that emergency personnel have immediate, twenty-four-hour access to the facility. All means of shutting down the CSPI shall be clearly marked. The owner or operator shall identify a responsible person for public inquiries throughout the life of the installation, and shall provide a mailing address and twenty-four-hour telephone number for such person(s).
(b) 
Land clearing, soil erosion, and wildlife habitat. Clearing of natural vegetation shall be limited to what is necessary for the construction, operation, and maintenance of the CSPI or otherwise prescribed by applicable laws, regulations, and bylaws. For any CSPI requiring land clearing of two acres or more, a special permit is required. [See Subsection B(2)(b).]
(8) 
Monitoring and maintenance.
(a) 
Maintenance. The CSPI owner or operator shall maintain the facility in good condition. Maintenance shall include, but not be limited to, painting, structural repairs, and integrity of security measures. Site access shall be maintained to a level acceptable to the local emergency services. The owner or operator shall be responsible for the cost of maintaining the solar photovoltaic installation and all access roads that are not public ways.
(b) 
Modifications. All material modifications to a CSPI made after issuance of the required building permit shall require approval by the site plan approval authority.
(9) 
Discontinuance and removal.
(a) 
Removal requirements. Any CSPI, or any substantial part thereof, not used for a period of one continuous year or more without written permission from the site plan approval authority, or that has reached the end of its useful life, shall be considered discontinued and shall be removed. Upon written request from the Building Inspector addressed to the contact address provided and maintained by the owner or operator as required above, the owner or operator shall provide evidence to the Building Inspector demonstrating continued use of the CSPI. Failure to provide such evidence within 30 days of such written request shall be conclusive evidence that the installation has been discontinued. Anyone intending to decommission and/or remove such an installation shall notify the site plan approval authority and Building Inspector by certified mail of the proposed date of discontinued operations and plans for removal.
The owner or operator shall physically remove the installation no more than 150 days after the date of discontinued operations. Removal shall consist of:
[1] 
Physical removal of all parts of and appurtenances to the CSPI, including structures, equipment, security barriers and transmission lines;
[2] 
Disposal of all solid and hazardous waste in accordance with local, state, and federal waste disposal regulations;
[3] 
Stabilization or re-vegetation of the site as necessary to minimize erosion. The site plan approval authority may allow the owner or operator to leave landscaping or designated below-grade foundations in order to minimize erosion and disruption to vegetation.
If the owner or operator of the CSPI fails to remove the installation in accordance with the requirements of this section, the Town shall have the right, to the extent it is otherwise duly authorized by law, to enter the property and physically remove the installation at the expense of the owner of the installation and the owner(s) of the site on which the facility is located. The Town may use the financial surety as stipulated in Subsection D(9)(b), below for this purpose.
(b) 
Financial surety. Proponents seeking to construct and operate a CSPI shall provide to the Town, prior to construction, a form of surety, either through an escrow account, bond or otherwise, to cover the cost of removal in the event the Town must remove the CSPI and remediate the landscape. The amount and form of such surety shall be determined by the site plan approval authority. This surety will not be required for municipally or state-owned facilities. The project proponent shall submit a fully inclusive estimate of the costs associated with removal, prepared by a qualified engineer. The amount shall include a mechanism for calculating increased removal costs due to inflation.
[1]
Editor's Note: Former § 145-28, Site plan review, as amended, was repealed 5-9-2011 ATM by Art. 16.

§ 145-28.1 Small wind energy systems.

[Added 5-9-2016 ATM by Art. 31]
A. 
Purpose and intent. This bylaw is to promote safe, effective and efficient use of small wind energy systems for individual property owners to reduce on-site consumption of utility-supplied electricity, while avoiding undue negative effects on surrounding properties.
B. 
Applicability.
(1) 
Small wind energy systems, as defined herein, shall be allowed by special permit issued in accordance with this bylaw in all zoning districts in the Town.
(2) 
The Planning Board is the special permit granting authority for small wind energy systems.
(3) 
This section applies to small wind systems no greater than 100 kilowatts of rated nameplate capacity proposed to be constructed after the effective date of this section.
(4) 
Towers are limited to one tower per parcel.
(5) 
Small wind energy systems mounted on buildings shall extend or protrude no more than five feet higher than the highest point of the building.
(6) 
Small wind energy systems that are used primarily for agriculture, as defined in § 145-2 of this chapter, also pursuant to MGL c. 40A, § 3, are exempt from this bylaw.
C. 
Definitions.
HEIGHT
The height of a wind turbine measured from natural grade to the tip of the rotor blade at its highest point, or blade-tip height. This measure is also commonly referred to as the maximum tip height (MTH).
OFF-GRID
A standalone generating system not connected to or in any way dependent on the public utility grid.
RATED NAMEPLATE CAPACITY
The maximum rated output of electric power specified by an equipment manufacturer on the nameplate of a piece of equipment or wind turbine system.
SMALL WIND ENERGY SYSTEM
A wind energy conversion system consisting of a wind turbine and associated control or conversion electronics that has a rated capacity of not more than 100 kW and which is intended to provide power primarily for on-site uses, although excess generation may be supplied to the commercial power grid. The distinction between this small wind energy system and a commercial system is that this is intended to provide an alternative to the public utility grid, whereas a commercial system is intended to provide to the public utility grid for pay.
TOWER
A freestanding structure on which the wind turbine is mounted.
WIND MONITORING OR METEOROLOGICAL TOWER
A temporary tower used to gather wind data necessary for site evaluation and development of a wind energy project. In addition, a meteorological tower may be equipped to record temperature, solar radiation and air pressure if necessary, but is not used for the purpose of generating electricity.
WIND TURBINE
A device that converts kinetic wind energy into rotational energy that drives an electrical generator. A wind turbine typically consists of a tower, nacelle body, and a rotor with two or more blades.
D. 
Submission requirements. The applicant shall provide 10 copies of each of the following to the Planning Board as part of the special permit application:
(1) 
A completed application form with a review fee.
(2) 
Existing conditions site plan drawn to scale and in sufficient detail to show the following:
(a) 
Property lines, dimensions and area, subject property's owners, and abutters within 300 feet of the subject property.
(b) 
Location and dimensions of all existing buildings, accessory structures and uses, public and private roads, driveways, easements, stone walls, and fence lines within 300 feet of the system.
(c) 
Height of any structures over 35 feet, and the location and average height of trees on the subject property and adjacent properties, within 300 feet of the proposed small wind turbine.
(3) 
Proposed conditions site plan drawn to scale and in sufficient detail to show the following:
(a) 
The location of the proposed tower and any appurtenances and equipment. Indicate property boundaries and distances to the base of the wind tower and to the nearest corners of each of the appurtenant structures and equipment.
(b) 
Limits of areas where vegetation is to be cleared or altered and justification for any such clearing or alteration.
(c) 
Plans to control erosion and sedimentation both during construction and as a permanent measure.
(d) 
Plans indicating locations and specifics of proposed screening, landscaping, ground cover, fencing, exterior lighting or signs.
(e) 
Plans of the proposed access driveway at the subject site, whether temporary or permanent; include grading, drainage, and traveled width. Include a cross section of the access drive indicating the width, depth of gravel, paving or surface material.
(f) 
Location of access easements or rights-of-way, if any, needed for access to the wind tower from a street.
(4) 
Standard drawings of the structural components of the small wind energy system, including structures, tower, base and footings. Drawings and any necessary calculations shall be certified by a registered engineer. The system must comply with the Massachusetts building and electrical codes.
(5) 
A technical report from a qualified individual that the site is feasible for wind power, that documents wind speed at the proposed site, that anticipates energy that will be created from the small wind energy system, and that estimates the amount of energy necessary to serve the on-site uses.
(6) 
Post-construction simulation views of the site from at least four locations where the tower and blades would be visible as through means of sketches or computer simulations.
(7) 
A proposed maintenance schedule for the small wind energy system and related equipment.
(8) 
Emergency services: The applicant shall provide a copy of the project summary and electrical schematic. All means of disconnecting the small wind energy system shall be clearly marked. This shall be forwarded to the Fire Department for review and approval.
E. 
Design and siting requirements.
(1) 
Unauthorized access: Small wind energy systems shall be designed to prevent unauthorized access.
(2) 
Land clearing, soil erosion and wildlife habitat: Clearing of natural vegetation shall be limited to that which is necessary for the construction, operation and maintenance of the small wind energy system and is otherwise prescribed by applicable laws, regulations, and bylaws.
(3) 
Setbacks: A wind turbine tower may not be sited within:
(a) 
A distance equal to 1.5 times the maximum tip height (MTH) of the wind turbine from buildings, the nearest property line, critical infrastructure — including critical electric infrastructure and above-ground natural gas distribution infrastructure — or private or public ways that are not part of the wind energy facility;
(b) 
A distance equal to three times the maximum tip height (MTH) from the nearest occupied residential or commercial structure.
(4) 
Height: The small wind energy system's maximum tip height shall not exceed 120 feet in height, and must comply with Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Regulations.
(5) 
Noise: The wind facility and associated equipment shall conform with the provisions of the Department of Environmental Protection's Division of Air Quality Noise Regulations (310 CMR 7.10), unless the Department and the Planning Board agree that those provisions shall not be applicable. A source of sound will be considered to be violating these regulations if the source:
(a) 
Increases the broadband sound level by more than 10 dB(A) above ambient sound; or
(b) 
Produces a pure tone condition when an octave band center frequency sound pressure level exceeds the two adjacent center frequency sound pressure levels by three decibels or more.
These criteria are measured both at the property line and at the nearest inhabited structure. Ambient sound is defined as the background A-weighted sound level that is exceeded 90% of the time measured during equipment hours. The ambient sound may also be established by other means with consent from DEP. An analysis prepared by a qualified engineer shall be presented to demonstrate compliance with these noise standards, if required by the Planning Board. The Planning Board, in consultation with the Department, shall determine whether such violations shall be measured at the property line or at the nearest inhabited residence.
(6) 
Lighting: Small wind energy systems shall be lighted only if required by the Federal Aviation Administration. Lighting of other parts of the small wind energy system, such as appurtenant structures, shall be limited to that required for safety and operational purposes, and shall be reasonably shielded from abutting properties.
(7) 
Signage and advertising: Signs shall be restricted to reasonable identification of the manufacturer or operator of the small wind energy facility and shall defer to the requirements of the Town of Belchertown sign regulations. No advertising shall be allowed.
(8) 
Visibility: The wind generation equipment shall have a non-reflective finish of an unobtrusive color.
(a) 
Electromagnetic interference: The small wind energy system shall cause no electromagnetic interference. If it is determined that the system causes interference, the operator shall take the necessary corrective action to eliminate this interference, subject to the approval of the Building Commissioner.
F. 
Approval. The Planning Board shall proceed in accordance with the procedures and timelines for special permits in MGL c. 40A, § 9, and § 145-69 of this bylaw. The Planning Board may hire professional consultants at the expense of the applicant to assist it in evaluating the proposed small wind turbine and the impacts on the community. The special permit will run with the property and shall not be specific to a particular owner unless otherwise noted.
G. 
Maintenance requirements.
(1) 
The Building Commissioner reserves the right to inspect the small wind energy system and its appurtenances at any time.
(2) 
At all times the applicant and/or successive owners shall maintain the small wind turbine and related equipment in good working condition and perform regular maintenance in accordance with the approved maintenance schedule. A record shall be kept of all maintenance performed, and said record must be provided to the Building Commissioner whenever requested to verify maintenance.
(3) 
The owner's contact information and the manufacturer's contact information must be on file with the Building Commissioner and Fire Department in cases of emergencies.
(4) 
Should the turbine fall into disrepair and/or experience a situation where it is producing unusual noise or other emissions, the system owner shall have no more than 24 hours to implement actions to correct the situation.
(5) 
Failure to properly maintain the small wind turbine or correct other issues may result in revocation of the special permit.
(6) 
The Town retains the right, after the receipt of an appropriate court order to enter and remove an abandoned or hazardous small wind turbine, and its related equipment, that is not removed by the property owner within 90 days from the date the Building Commissioner issues written determination that the system is abandoned or hazardous. All associated costs of removal and securing the site for an abandoned or hazardous small wind turbine and related equipment will be charged to the property owner in accordance with the provisions of MGL c. 139, § 3A, as a tax lien on the property.
H. 
Term of special permit for a small wind energy system. A special permit issued for the construction or operation of any small wind energy system shall be valid for 25 years, unless extended or renewed. Upon request, the Planning Board may extend the time period or renew the special permit, if there has been satisfactory operation of the facility. Any special permit issued under this bylaw shall lapse within one year from the grant thereof if construction has not sooner commenced except for good cause. In such a case, a new application process must be undertaken before the small wind energy system can proceed. Upon expiration or termination of the special permit, the small wind energy system shall be removed by the applicant.
I. 
Change of owner. Once a special permit for a residential small wind energy system has been approved, the applicant shall duly record a copy of the special permit with the Hampshire Registry of Deeds. All conditions under which the special permit was originally granted shall be binding on all successive owners of the property.
J. 
Removal requirements.
(1) 
A small wind energy system that is not used for 180 days shall be deemed abandoned and shall be dismantled and removed from the property at the expense of the small wind energy system owner. Removal of the system shall include the structure, foundation, transmission equipment, fencing and other appurtenances. The site shall be revegetated to prevent erosion.
(2) 
Any small wind energy system which has reached the end of its useful life or has been abandoned shall be removed. The owner/operator shall physically remove the small wind energy system no more than 90 days after the date of discontinued operations. "Physically remove" shall include, but not be limited to:
(a) 
Removal of all wind turbines, structures, shelters, machinery, equipment, fencing, security barriers, transmission lines and other appurtenances from the site;
(b) 
Disposal of all solid and hazardous waste in accordance with local and state waste disposal regulations; and
(c) 
Restoration of the location of the small wind energy system to its natural condition.
K. 
Waiver provisions. The Board may waive strict compliance with any provision of this bylaw if it deems it in the public interest and determines that the intent of the bylaw has been maintained. Such waivers must be referenced in the written site plan approval decision, including the reasons for them.

§ 145-29 Earth removal.

[Amended 11-17-1997 STM by Art. 19]
A. 
General. The removal from the premises and processing of soil, loam, sand, gravel, clay, sod, quarried stone, or other mineral deposits is allowed in the Town of Belchertown in those districts as stated in Article III of this chapter upon the obtainment of a special permit for earth removal from the Planning Board. Operation hours shall be between 7:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m. on weekdays. Operation is not permitted on weekends and holidays. There shall be no exception beyond these hours. However, the Planning Board may further limit hours of operation if, after weighing factors, including traffic flow and safety, it determines the public good will be served. Trucks may enter and leave the premises only within such hours. All loaded vehicles shall be covered to prevent dust and contents from spilling and blowing from the load. The operator shall be responsible for cleaning spillage on public ways.
[Amended 5-10-1999 ATM by Art. 18; 5-13-2002 ATM by Art. 23]
B. 
Exception. Notwithstanding the provisions thereof, no special permit shall be required for:
[Amended 5-13-2002 ATM by Art. 23]
(1) 
Building permit. Removal by building permit when such removal is at the site of, incidental to, and in connection with the excavation and grading necessary for constructing a principal or accessory use permitted by this chapter, provided that the quantity of materials removed does not exceed that actually displaced by the portion of the principal or accessory use below finished grade or 500 cubic yards. Any site work involving the removal of more than 500 cubic yards requires a special permit.
(2) 
Transfer of materials. Removal of earth products within the limits of a lot or contiguous lots in the same ownership, provided that no such moving shall take place across or within a street and the amount to be moved does not exceed 500 cubic yards.
(3) 
Cemetery. Removal of earth products as part of normal cemetery operations.
(4) 
Subdivision. Removal of earth products in relation to the construction of an approved subdivision road under the Subdivision Control Law[1] where such removal is in compliance with all requirements and conditions of an approved subdivision plan and is necessary to construct the same. The volume of earth to be removed will be shown on the definitive subdivision plan. Any amount to be removed beyond that necessary to construct the improvements according to the endorsed definitive plan requires a special permit. The volume of earth to be removed from individual building lots within the subdivision is governed by § 145-29B(1), and such volume shall be demonstrated to the Building Inspector prior to a certificate of occupancy.
[1]
Editor's Note: See MGL c. 41, §§ 81K through 81GG.
C. 
Special permit granting authority. The Planning Board shall be the special permit granting authority as authorized under this section and § 145-69 of this chapter and MGL c. 40A, §§ 9 and 11.
D. 
Submission requirements. Any person who desires to remove or process earth products subject to the provisions of this section shall submit a written application for a special permit to the Planning Board. Each such application shall be accompanied by plans and specifications prepared by a registered professional engineer or registered land surveyor as follows:
[Amended 5-13-2002 ATM by Art. 23]
(1) 
A plan of the area from which removal is proposed and a strip 150 feet wide surrounding said area, showing all man-made features, lot lines, zoning boundaries, vegetation cover, soil characteristics and existing topography;
(2) 
A plan of the area showing the finished grade and treatment of the site after the proposed completion of the excavation;
(3) 
An analysis and evaluation of the impact of the proposed earth removal on existing site features;
(4) 
An analysis and evaluation of the impact of the proposed earth removal on the groundwater, particularly elevation and significance;
(5) 
An analysis and evaluation of the impact of the proposed earth removal on surface waters, wetlands and vegetative cover;
(6) 
The estimated quantity of materials to be removed and topsoil to be stripped and replaced;
(7) 
The treatment of the site during operations to reduce dust and sand;
(8) 
A detailed statement of the hours and days of operation and the trucking route and type of vehicle to be used on any street for the removal of the earth;
(9) 
The proposed form of performance guaranty; and
(10) 
Such additional information as the Planning Board may require.
E. 
Review and approval process.
(1) 
After notice and public hearing in accordance with Section 9 of the Zoning Act (MGL c. 40A, § 9), the Planning Board may, after due consideration of the reports and recommendations of the Conservation Commission, Board of Health and Town Engineer, grant a special permit, provided that the conditions and standards of this section have been adequately met.
(2) 
A special permit for any earth product removal may be issued for a period not exceeding two years in duration. Upon reapplication for a permit, the Planning Board, at its discretion, may grant one or more extensions of said permit, each of which shall not exceed two years' duration.
F. 
Standards and conditions.
(1) 
In granting a special permit under this chapter, the Planning Board shall impose reasonable conditions to protect the neighborhood and the town. These conditions shall be written upon and shall constitute part of the written permit, including but not limited to:
[Amended 5-13-2002 ATM by Art. 23]
(a) 
Method of removal;
(b) 
Type and location of temporary structures;
(c) 
Fencing;
(d) 
Hours of operation;
(e) 
Routes for transporting the material through town;
(f) 
The duration of the removal operations;
(g) 
The area and depth of excavation;
(h) 
The reestablishment of ground levels and grades;
(i) 
The steepness of slopes excavated;
(j) 
Provisions for temporary and permanent structures;
(k) 
Disposition of boulders and tree stumps;
(l) 
Grading of slopes and replacement of loam over the area of removal;
(m) 
Planting of the area to suitable cover, including trees, necessary to restore the area to usable condition; and
(n) 
Distance from excavation to street and lot line.
(2) 
Excavation.
(a) 
No excavation shall be permitted below the grade of a way open to public use, whether public or private, bounding the property at any point nearer than 200 feet to the center line of such way.
(b) 
No excavation below the natural grade of any property boundary shall be permitted nearer than 50 feet to such boundary.
(c) 
Excavation for removal of earth, sand, gravel, and other soils shall not extend closer than six feet above the annual high groundwater table. A monitoring well shall be installed by the property owner to verify groundwater elevations. This subsection shall not apply to excavations incidental to permitted uses, including but not limited to providing for the installation or maintenance of structural foundations, freshwater ponds, utility conduits or on-site sewage disposal.
[Amended 5-13-2002 ATM by Art. 23]
(d) 
No area shall be excavated or filled so as to cause the accumulation of freestanding water unless the Planning Board shall permit the creation of a pond, and upon the approval of the Conservation Commission.
(3) 
The active operation area shall not exceed a total of three acres at any one time for excavation, nor six acres at any one time for excavation and processing. Natural vegetation shall be left and maintained on undisturbed land for screening and noise-reduction.
[Amended 5-13-2002 ATM by Art. 23]
(4) 
Access roads shall be treated with a suitable material to reduce dust and mud for a distance of 150 feet back from such a way. Access road entrances shall include a gate or other secure mechanisms to restrict public access to the site.
(5) 
Guard fencing of at least four feet in height shall be required around vertical slopes steeper than a grade of four feet horizontal distance to one foot of vertical rise (4:1) for public safety.
(6) 
Operation hours shall be between 7:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m. on weekdays. No weekend or holiday hours are permitted. However, the Planning Board may further limit hours of operation if, after weighing factors, including traffic flow and safety, it determines the public good will be served. Trucks may enter and leave the premises only within such hours. All loaded vehicles shall be suitably covered to prevent dust and contents from spilling and blowing from the load.
[Amended 5-13-2002 ATM by Art. 23]
(7) 
A permit issued hereunder is not transferable and no work under such permit shall be performed except by the holder of the permit.
[Amended 5-13-2002 ATM by Art. 23]
(8) 
The Planning Board may recommend conditions, not specifically provided for herein, on any special permit relating to earth removal.
(9) 
Restoration. The Planning Board shall regulate the conversion of the abandoned excavation site and its reuse according to, but not limited to, the following conditions:
(a) 
Restoration shall be carried on simultaneously with excavation so that, for excavation only, when any three-acre operation area has been excavated, at least two of those acres must be restored before work commences on the next two contiguous acres; and for excavation with processing, when any six operation acres have been excavated at least five of those acres must be restored before work commences on the next five contiguous acres. Final restoration work shall be completed at least 90 days prior to the expiration of the performance guaranty.
[Amended 5-13-2002 ATM by Art. 23]
(b) 
Subsoil and topsoil shall be spread over the disturbed area to a minimum depth of four inches and seeded with grass of legume mixture for erosion control.
(c) 
No slope shall be steeper than a grade of four feet of horizontal distance to one foot of vertical distance (4:1). The Planning Board may modify the required slope where the stability of material, or ledge rock, makes steeper slopes practical.
[Amended 5-13-2002 ATM by Art. 23]
(d) 
Unless the permit conditions expressly require alteration of drainage patterns, the land shall be left so that natural storm drainage shall leave the property at the original natural drainage points and so that the total discharge at peak flow as well as the area of drainage to any one point is not increased.
G. 
Performance guaranty. An irrevocable performance guaranty, in an amount determined by the Town Engineer, shall be posted with the Town Treasurer-Collector to ensure the satisfactory compliance with this section. The guaranty shall not be released until the applicant has certified, in writing, and the Planning Board has determined that the restoration has been completed in compliance with the permit and plan.
H. 
Existing operations. Earth removal activities in lawful operation at the time this section is adopted may continue under the terms of existing permits until the expiration thereof, and thereafter application shall be made under the terms of this section. All existing earth removal activities are subject to MGL c. 40A, §§ 6 and 9 as to continued schedule of operation.
I. 
Fees. The Planning Board shall establish such fees for the issuance of permits as it shall find necessary for the administration of this section, taking into consideration the costs of clerical, civil engineering consultants, legal and inspection expenses.

§ 145-29.1 Accessory apartments.

[Added 5-12-2014 ATM by Art. 21]
A. 
General objectives. The provision of accessory apartments is intended to:
(1) 
Provide housing options for residents who cannot afford, or who do not desire, a single-unit house with land, for example, young adults and senior citizens; and
(2) 
Provide older owners with a means of obtaining rental income, companionship, security and services, and thereby enable them to stay more comfortably in houses and neighborhoods they might otherwise be forced to leave;
(3) 
Encourage a more economic and energy-efficient use of the Town's housing supply while maintaining the appearance and character of the Town's residential neighborhoods;
(4) 
Protect the stability, property values, and the single-unit residential character of a neighborhood by ensuring that accessory apartments are installed only in owner-occupied houses and are properly permitted and inspected;
(5) 
Add moderately priced rental units to the housing stock to meet the needs of smaller households and make housing units available to moderate-income households who might otherwise have difficulty finding housing;
(6) 
Provide housing units for persons with disabilities.
B. 
Procedure. The Planning Board may issue a special permit for one apartment accessory to the use of a single-unit dwelling, provided each of the following conditions is met:
(1) 
There shall be no more than one accessory apartment on an individual parcel of land, regardless of the parcel's area;
(2) 
The owner of the residence in which the accessory unit is created must continue to occupy at least one of the dwelling units as his or her primary residence. The special permit for the accessory apartment may be revoked by the Planning Board if the owner no longer occupies one of the dwelling units;
(3) 
Up to 33% of the gross floor area of the dwelling, not to exceed 600 square feet maximum gross floor area, may be permitted for the accessory apartment; to provide for development of housing units for disabled individuals, the Planning Board may allow reasonable deviation from the stated conditions when necessary to install features that facilitate access and mobility for disabled persons.
(4) 
The accessory apartment shall have only one bedroom;
(5) 
There is no outward evidence that the premises are being used for more than one residential unit. That is:
(a) 
All stairways to apartments should be enclosed within the exterior walls of the dwelling. Otherwise, they must not be apparent from the street.
(b) 
Any new entrance shall be located on the side or in the rear of the dwelling.
(c) 
Where there are two or more existing entrances on the front facade of a dwelling, if modifications are made to any entrance, the result shall be that one entrance appears more prominent than the others.
(d) 
The accessory apartment must use the same driveway as the main dwelling unit;
(6) 
The accessory apartment must have the same street address as the main dwelling unit, but with the designation "A" for the apartment, for example, if the house is No. 123, the accessory apartment would be No. 123A.
(7) 
Accessory apartments are allowed only in the AG-A, AG-B, LR, and VR Zones, and only with a special permit from the Planning Board.
(8) 
Special permits issued under this section shall specify that the owner must occupy one of the dwelling units. Prior to the occupancy of the accessory apartment, the special permit must be recorded in the Hampshire Registry of Deeds or Land Court, as appropriate, in the chain of title to the property, with documentation of the recording provided to the Building Inspector/Zoning Enforcement Officer.
(9) 
When there is a transfer of ownership of a property with a permitted accessory apartment, the new owner may apply for transfer of the special permit for an accessory apartment by submitting a notarized letter of application stating that the new owner shall occupy one of the dwelling units on the premises. In extenuating circumstances of transfer, such as, but not limited to, inheritance, bankruptcy, or foreclosure, the owner may request the Planning Board modify the owner-occupancy requirement to allow reasonable time to establish occupancy. The period of owner non-residency will normally not exceed one year. During the non-residency period, the owner shall not be allowed to rent both units.
(10) 
Prior to issuance of an accessory apartment special permit, a floor plan must be submitted showing the building, including proposed interior and exterior changes to the building.
C. 
Apartments created before the adoption of this bylaw. To ensure that accessory apartments in existence before the adoption of this bylaw comply with the Massachusetts Building Code:
(1) 
Apartments that lawfully existed before the adoption of this bylaw, but do not strictly conform to the terms of this bylaw, are exempt from the terms of this bylaw for the life of the current special permit.
(2) 
The Planning Board may authorize, under a special permit and in conjunction with the building inspector, an accessory apartment in an owner-occupied single-unit dwelling. The Board shall review each existing apartment on its individual merits to determine if the dwelling conforms to the Massachusetts Building Code. The applicant must follow the same procedure described in this bylaw, including the submission of a notarized letter declaring owner-occupancy.