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

§ 145-1 Authority; purpose.

This chapter is enacted pursuant to and under the authority of MGL c. 40A, as amended, for the purpose of:
A. 
Promoting the health, safety, convenience and general welfare of the inhabitants of the Town of Belchertown;
B. 
Promoting sound and orderly growth;
C. 
Providing a variety of housing types to meet the needs of Belchertown's diverse and growing population;
D. 
Encouraging the expansion of suitable, economically and environmentally sound business and industry within the town;
E. 
Protecting property values;
F. 
Establishing a fair and reasonable set of standards for evaluating each development proposal impartially, on its own merit;
G. 
Protecting the town's natural resources and amenities; and
H. 
Encouraging the most appropriate use of land in Belchertown which is consistent with the intent and purpose of this chapter.

§ 145-2 Definitions.

As used in this chapter, the following terms shall have the meanings indicated:
ACCESSORY APARTMENT
An accessory apartment shall mean a separate housekeeping unit, complete with its own sleeping, cooking and sanitary facilities, that is smaller than the principal dwelling unit and separated from it in a manner that maintains the appearance of the primary structure as a single-unit dwelling.
[Added 5-12-2014 ATM by Art. 21]
ACCESSORY STRUCTURE
A structure customarily incidental to a principal building on the same lot or on an adjoining lot under the same ownership and not attached to the building by any covered or roofed structure.
ACCESSORY USE
The use of a structure or premises which is customarily incidental to a principal permitted use.
ADULT BOOKSTORE
An establishment having as a substantial or significant portion of its stock-in-trade books, magazines and other matter which are distinguished or characterized by their emphasis depicting, describing or relating to sexual conduct or sexual excitement as defined in MGL c. 272, § 31.
[Added 3-16-1998 STM by Art. 5]
ADULT ESTABLISHMENTS WHICH DISPLAY LIVE NUDITY
Establishment which displays live nudity for its patrons, any establishment which provides live entertainment for its patrons, which includes the display of nudity, as that term is defined in MGL c. 272, § 31.
[Added 3-16-1998 STM by Art. 5]
ADULT MOTION PICTURE THEATER
An enclosed building used for presenting material distinguished by an emphasis on matter depicting, describing or relating to sexual conduct or sexual excitement as defined in MGL c. 272, § 31.
[Added 3-16-1998 STM by Art. 5]
ADULT PARAPHERNALIA STORE
An establishment having as a substantial or significant portion of its stock devices, objects, tools or toys which are distinguished or characterized by their association with sexual activity, including sexual conduct or sexual excitement as defined in MGL c. 272, § 31.
[Added 3-16-1998 STM by Art. 5]
ADULT VIDEO STORE
An establishment having a substantial or significant portion of its stock-in-trade videos, movies or other film material which are distinguished or characterized by their emphasis depicting, describing or relating to sexual conduct or sexual excitement as defined in said MGL c. 272, § 31.
[Added 3-16-1998 STM by Art. 5]
AGRICULTURE
This definition reads as given in MGL c. 128, § 1A, and is subject to any further amendments thereto as may be enacted.
[Amended 5-12-2008 ATM by Art. 16]
AGRITOURISM
Refers to a supplemental enterprise at a working farm conducted for the enjoyment or education of visitors that generates income for the owner. The owner/operator must be engaged in agriculture, as defined under this section. This supplemental activity is not considered under other uses for the purposes of § 145-11, Schedule of Use Regulations, with the exception that it is subordinate to Open/General Uses 2, (agriculture on parcels less than five acres). Agritourism uses include, but are not limited to, farm stores, roadside stands, pick your own, wineries, on-farm food sales, agricultural processing demonstrations, farm workshops, educational activities, farm tours, agricultural festivals, on-farm theme playgrounds, on-farm fee fishing and hunting, farm vacations, gift shops, horseback riding/trail rides, cross-country trails, hayrides, mazes, crop art, on-farm picnic grounds, farm animal exhibits, bird/wildlife watching and nature-based attractions.
[Amended 5-12-2008 ATM by Art. 16]
AMBIENT BROADBAND SOUND LEVEL
Background A-weighted sound level that is exceeded 90% of the time measured during equipment operating hours.
AQUIFER
A geologic feature that contains sufficient saturated permeable material, such as rock or sand and gravel, capable of yielding significant quantities of potable water for wells.
BED AND BREAKFAST
A building in which up to five rooms may provide overnight guest accommodations for compensation. Lodging includes breakfast and may include other meals available to registered lodgers only. The owner or manager must reside on the premises.
[Added 5-8-2000 ATM by Art. 20]
BOARDINGHOUSE
A building or part thereof containing up to 12 rooms, without individual kitchen facilities, occupied or to be occupied for sleeping purposes for compensation. Same as "lodging house."
[Added 5-8-2000 ATM by Art. 20]
BUILDING ENVELOPE
That portion of a building lot contained within the zoning setback requirements under this chapter.
BUILDING INSPECTOR
The Inspector of Buildings per MGL c. 143, § 3.
[Added 5-9-1994 ATM by Art. 25]
BUILDING LOT
A lot which meets the requirements of this chapter for the proposed use.
BUSINESS LOCATION
A tract of land designated for commercial activity on which one or more private businesses are sited on the same undivided lot as shown on the Town of Belchertown's Assessor's Map, the lot being in one ownership.
CLUSTER DEVELOPMENT
An alternative pattern of residential development in which reduced area and setback requirements may be authorized by special permit in exchange for the reservation of open space.
COMMERCIAL TRANSPORTATION
Vehicles for hire or for transport of commercial products, such as buses, rental automobiles, transport vans, limousines and tractor-trailers.
COMMON DRIVE DEVELOPMENT
A tract of land divided into two or more lots with each one having legal frontage on an existing public way and having access obtained through the common use of a private driveway (common drive) in conformance with Article X of this chapter.
COMMON WALL
That portion of a structure which vertically separates one dwelling unit from another, meeting the requirements of State Building Code 780 CMR for functions such as separation and sound transmission.
CONTINUING CARE RETIREMENT COMMUNITIES (CCRC)
A development that is part housing complex, part activity center and part health-care system for elderly persons. It is comprised of housing and associated services operated as a coordinated unit. Services usually include full medical and nursing services, and may include other amenities, such as educational and recreational activities, dining accommodations, shopping and banking facilities, beautician and barber facilities, and transportation services exclusively for the residents of the facility.
[Added 5-8-2000 ATM by Art. 20]
CONVENIENCE STORE
A retail market serving a neighborhood proximal to the location of such store, as opposed to a supermarket type of retail activity oriented to serving a region in which it is located.
DEVELOPMENT SCHEDULE
The timing, sequence and rate of construction and/or improvements to be implemented on a particular parcel, as defined by stages.
DEVELOPMENT TRACT
A parcel or group of parcels in single ownership or under single control, considered as a unit for the purposes of development.
DWELLING UNIT
A structure containing, under one roof and within exterior abutting walls, one or more rooms providing complete living facilities for one or more individuals, including equipment for cooking or provisions for same, and including room or rooms for living, sleeping, eating and sanitation.
[Amended 5-8-2000 ATM by Art. 20]
A. 
A structure containing one dwelling unit.
B. 
A structure containing two dwelling units.
C. 
A structure containing three or more dwelling units.
D. 
A single-unit dwelling unit connected on one side to an adjacent single-unit dwelling unit by a common wall as described in Article 2, S.200.0 of the State Building Code 780 CMR.
E. 
A single-unit or two-unit dwelling unit which stands alone and has no common walls or walls in common with an adjacent single-unit or two-unit dwelling unit or its accessory structure(s) if any.
F. 
A dwelling unit which is used for institutional purposes to include child-care, elderly housing, emergency shelter, handicapped housing and rehabilitation corrections housing. This definition does not apply to congregate living arrangements among nonrelated persons with disabilities, as defined by any applicable federal and/or state law and/or regulations.
ESTATE LOT
A building lot consisting of a minimum of 50 feet of frontage and 150,000 square feet of area within which 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.
EXTERIOR ADDITION
An addition to a preexisting structure which results in an increase in the building footprint or the height of the building.
FIFTY-FIVE-AND-OVER HOUSING
A residential complex restricted to residents mainly aged 55 years and older consistent with the definition of "elderly" as currently promulgated by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and with the Federal Housing for Older Persons Act of 1995. Specific criteria:
[Added 5-14-2001 ATM by Art. 24]
A. 
One person aged 55 or older must reside in each of at least 80% of the complex's occupied units.
B. 
The complex must have published and must follow policies and procedures that demonstrate an intent to be housing for persons 55 and older.
C. 
The units may have condominium ownership or they may be rental units.
D. 
The units may be detached, or they may be attached in blocks up to four units.
E. 
The minimum lot size for the complex is five acres.
F. 
The maximum density of the units is six per acre.
G. 
No unit may have more than two bedrooms.
H. 
The complex and units must meet Americans with Disabilities Act standards.
I. 
Any complex exceeding 12 units must have a community space for mail, messages, meetings and recreation.
J. 
The complex must have an outdoor community space for passive or active recreation.
K. 
The complex must accommodate transit vans and have bicycle facilities.
L. 
An association agreement, or property management plan if units are to be rentals, guaranteeing maintenance of the community property must be submitted with the application.
FLOODPLAIN
That area adjacent to a watercourse or a drainageway subject to flooding when the watercourse or drainageway overflows its normal channel.
A. 
That area shown within the floodplain boundaries on the Town of Belchertown Flood Insurance Rate Map (FIRM) dated September 2, 1981, as Zones A and A1-A30, as amended, and on the Town of Belchertown Floodway Boundary Map (FWBM), dated September 2, 1981, as amended, and further defined by the floodway data tables contained in the Flood Insurance Study; and
B. 
The area in the floodplain which lies 10 feet or more below the elevation of the floodplain limits described in Subsection A.
FORESTRY
Land primarily and directly used in raising forest products under a program certified by the State Forester to be a planned program to improve the quantity and quality of a continuous crop for the purpose of selling such products in the regular course of business or when primarily and directly used in a related manner which is incidental thereto and represents a customary and necessary use in raising such products and preparing them for market, to include but not be limited to management activities such as resource evaluation, forest harvesting and regeneration of forest stands.
FRONTAGE
A linear extent of a lot measured continuously along the adjacent street right-of-way between the intersection of one side lot line and that of the other or, in the case of corner lots, between one side lot line and the midpoint of the corner radius.
GENERAL LAWS
The General Laws of Massachusetts. In the case of a recodification of the General Laws, any citation of particular sections of the General Laws shall be applicable to the corresponding sections in the new codification.
A. 
All the water found beneath the surface of the ground.
B. 
Highly dynamic subterranean zone of free water saturation which accumulates over impervious strata, the upper limits of which tend to parallel the land surface.
HAZARDOUS WASTE
Any substance or mixture of such chemical, physical or infectious characteristics as to pose a significant, actual or potential hazard to water supplies or other hazard to human health if such substance or mixture were discharged onto land or into air or waters. Hazardous materials are those designated by the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the regulations of the Massachusetts Waste Management Act (MGL c. 21C) and include, without limitation, organic chemicals, petroleum products, heavy metals, radioactive or infectious wastes, acids and alkalis, and include such products as pesticides, herbicides, solvents and thinners.
HOME OCCUPATION
An accessory use of a dwelling unit or permitted accessory structure involving provision or sale of goods and/or services as set forth in § 145-25 of this chapter.
HOTEL
A building or part thereof which provides sleeping accommodation and which may also contain commercial uses and such additional facilities or services as a restaurant, a dining room, room service or public convention rooms.
[Added 5-8-2000 ATM by Art. 20]
IMPERVIOUS SURFACES
Materials or structures on or above the ground that do not allow precipitation to infiltrate the underlying soil.
IMPROVEMENT
Any changes to the existing conditions of a site for the purpose of complying with this chapter or rendering the site suitable for development and/or human habitation.
INN
A building in which more than five but not more than 15 guest rooms are used to provide or offer overnight accommodations not more than 30 consecutive days in length to transient guests for compensation, which may include the serving of meals to guests, and a conference area, as accessory uses, all not to exceed, in the aggregate, a building capacity of 50 guests.
[Added 5-8-2000 ATM by Art. 20]
A. 
A yard, field or other parcel of land used as a place for disposal or long-term storage of:
(1) 
Discarded, worn-out or junked plumbing or heating supplies or household appliances or furniture;
(2) 
Discarded, scrap or junked lumber; or
(3) 
Old or scrap copper, brass, rope, rags, batteries, paper, rubbish, debris, waste and all scrap iron, steel and other ferrous or nonferrous material.
B. 
A junkyard shall also include garbage dumps, waste dumps, sanitary landfills and automobile graveyards.
LEACHABLE WASTE
Any waste material capable of releasing waterborne contaminants into the environment.
LODGING HOUSE
A building or part thereof containing up to 12 rooms, without individual kitchen facilities, occupied or to be occupied for sleeping purposes for compensation. Same as "boarding house."
[Added 5-8-2000 ATM by Art. 20]
A. 
A single area of land defined by boundaries which are recorded in the Hampshire County Registry of Deeds.
B. 
An area of land in one ownership, with definite boundaries, used or available for use as the site of one or more buildings.
C. 
"Lot" shall also mean "parcel," "site" or any similar terms.
LOT COVERAGE
That portion of a lot which is rendered impervious to rainfall, including but not limited to structures, pavement or permanent accessories.
LOT LINE
The established division line between lots or between a lot and a street.
A. 
The property line dividing a lot from a street (right-of-way). On a corner lot, one street line shall be designated the front lot line.
B. 
The lot line opposite the front lot line.
C. 
The line or lines bounding a lot which extend from the street toward the rear in a direction approximately perpendicular to the street. In the case of corner lots, all lines extending from streets shall be considered side lot lines.
MANDATORY OWNERS' ASSOCIATION
A nonprofit organization consisting of lot owners, homeowners or owners of dwelling units in which membership into said organization is automatic or mandatory for the maintenance of common areas or facilities and the provision of services to residents.
[Amended 5-12-2003 ATM by Art. 27]
MEDICAL MARIJUANA OFF-SITE DISPENSARY (MMOD)
A medical marijuana facility that is located off site from any cultivation/processing facility that is controlled and operated by the same registered and approved MMTC but which serves only to dispense the processed marijuana, related supplies and educational materials to patients registered and qualified under the provisions of 105 CMR 725.00 or their personal caregivers.
[Added 5-12-2014 ATM by Art. 19]
MEDICAL MARIJUANA TREATMENT CENTER (MMTC)
A use operated by a non-profit entity registered and approved by the Massachusetts Department of Public Health in accordance with 105 CMR 725.000, and pursuant to all other applicable state laws and regulations, also to be known as a "registered marijuana dispensary (RMD)," that acquires, cultivates, possesses, processes (including development of related products such as food, tinctures, aerosols, oils, or ointments), transfers, transports, sells, distributes, dispenses, or administers marijuana, products containing marijuana, related supplies, or educational materials to registered qualifying patients or their personal caregivers. A MMTC shall explicitly include facilities which cultivate and process medical marijuana, and which may also dispense and deliver medical marijuana and related products.
[Added 5-12-2014 ATM by Art. 19]
MEMORY CARE UNIT
A care unit in a designated, separate area for individuals with Alzheimer's disease or other dementia that is locked, segregated, or secured to prevent or limit access by a resident outside the designated or separated area.
[Added 12-1-2014 STM by Art. 5]
MINIMUM LOT WIDTH
The diameter of a circle of the prescribed minimum lot width for the zone in which a lot is situated being passed along a continuous line from the frontage of the lot through the rear of the lot's building envelope without the circumference intersecting any side lot lines, except as defined for estate lots (§ 145-26B) and open space community developments (§ 145-16, Table of Dimensional Regulations, Note 6) in this chapter.
[Added 5-13-1996 ATM by Art. 23]
MOBILE HOME
A structure, transportable or movable in one or more sections, which meets the dimensional requirements of 760 CMR (Building Code) and which is built on a permanent chassis and designed to be used as a dwelling unit with or without permanent foundation when connected to the required utilities. This term is not intended to include manufactured modular homes.
MOTEL
A hotel having an outside entrance for each sleeping unit and provided with automobile parking spaces directly accessible to each such unit.
[Added 5-8-2000 ATM by Art. 20]
OPEN SPACE
Any undeveloped area of land.
A. 
Any restricted area of land or combination of land and water within a development tract designed or intended for the common recreational, forestry or agricultural use or enjoyment of the residents of that development tract and/or the general public or an organization controlled thereby, the Town of Belchertown or a nonprofit conservation organization.
B. 
A cluster development according to Article XI of this chapter.
OWNER
A person or persons holding record title to a parcel of land or structure.
PRIMARY AQUIFER RECHARGE AREA
All areas which are underlain by surficial geologic deposits, including glaciofluvial or lacustrine stratified drift deposits or alluvium or swamp deposits, and in which the prevailing direction of groundwater flow is toward the area of influence of water supply wells.
PRINCIPAL BUILDING OR PRINCIPAL STRUCTURE
The building or other structure on a lot which is constructed to serve a principal residential, commercial, agricultural or industrial use of the lot.
PRIOR NONCONFORMING USE
A use of land, building or premises which is not a use permitted by the provision of this chapter for the district in which such land, building or premises is situated but which was legally existing at the effective date thereof.
PROMOTIONAL SIGNS
Signs pertaining to fund drives, campaigns or other charitable activities of a civic, philanthropic, educational, charitable, political or religious nature.
RECORDED
Filed in the Hampshire County Registry of Deeds or filed with the Recorder of the Land Court.
RECREATION AREA
An area for sports, leisure or social activities carried on in whole or in part out of doors.
A. 
That portion of land which is, or is intended to be, made available for the construction of roadways, ditches, drainage structures and utility lines.
B. 
The parcel of land between street property lines which is defined as the limit of land dedicated, secured or reserved for public transportation uses.
SITE PLAN
A scale drawing showing proposed and preexisting uses and/or structures for a parcel of land required by § 145-27 of this chapter.
STAGE OF DEVELOPMENT
The work to be done and the number of structures to be constructed within any of the time limits defined by the development schedule.
STORY
Refer to 780 CMR 502.0 DEFINITIONS (of the Massachusetts Building Code).
[Added 1-14-2008 STM by Art. 9]
STREET
A public or private way either shown on a plan approved in accordance with Chapter 270, Subdivision of Land, of the Code of the Town of Belchertown, as amended, or otherwise qualifying a lot for access and frontage under MGL c. 41, § 81L.
STRUCTURE
A combination of materials assembled at a fixed location to give support or shelter, such as a building, framework, retaining wall for a structure, tent, reviewing stand, platform, bin, flagpole, mast for radio antenna or the like. The word "structure" shall be construed, where the context allows, as though followed by the words "or part or parts thereof."
TRUCK STOP
A service point for tractor-trailer vehicles providing fuel and/or maintenance for such vehicles and travel services for their drivers.
UNIQUE NATURAL AND/OR HISTORICAL RESOURCE AREA
A site or area noted as a rare, uncommon or significant source of information about or valued as a rare, uncommon or significant example of:
A. 
Uncultivated or undeveloped physical terrain features; or
B. 
The historical past.
WETLAND RESOURCE AREA
Includes water areas and other land in any of the following categories:
[Amended 5-9-1994 ATM by Art. 21]
A. 
All areas defined as wetland under MGL c. 131, § 40, the Wetland Protection Act.
B. 
All areas defined as wetland under Chapter 139, Wetlands Protection, and Chapter 290, Wetlands, of the Code of the Town of Belchertown.
C. 
Lands within the Wetlands Protection District as described in § 145-12 of this chapter.
WIRELESS COMMUNICATIONS FACILITIES
The structures and devices designed to facilitate cellular telephone services, personal communications services and enhanced specialized mobile radio service as defined in Section 704 of the Federal Telecommunications Act of 1996. Included are towers, antennas mounted to towers or other structures and accessory structures, such as sheds, which are directly required for facility operations. Not included in this definition are antennas and dishes used solely for residential television and radio reception; antennas and dishes used for commercial or public purposes which are not visible from any neighboring property or public way; and amateur radio facilities used in accordance with the terms of any amateur radio service license issued by the Federal Communications Commission, provided that the tower is not used for commerce.
[Added 11-17-1997 STM by Art. 21]
YARD
A required open space, unoccupied except as herein permitted, between a principal structure and a street or lot line.
A. 
A yard extending between side lot lines from the frontmost portion of the principal structure to the street line(s).
B. 
A yard extending between side lot lines from the rearmost portion of the principal structure to the rear lot line.
C. 
A yard extending between the side lot line and the principal structure from the front yard to the rear yard.
ZERO LOT LINE
The provision of zero-foot side yard setback so as to allow for placement of a single dwelling unit and its accessory structure(s), if any, to abut the adjacent side property line and share a common wall with the adjacent single dwelling unit.
ZONING PERMIT
An official finding that a particular existing structure or proposed structure or lot or use of the structure or lot, as indicated by an application, complies with the requirements of the Belchertown bylaws or meets conditions of a variance or special permit at the time of application for said permit.