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

§ 145-17 Nonconforming uses.

A. 
The lawful use of any structure or land existing at the time of amendment or subsequent amendment of this chapter may be continued, although such structure or use does not conform to provisions of this chapter.
B. 
Alteration. A nonconforming structure may not be altered or reconstructed if the cost of such alterations exceeds 50% of the physical value of the structure at the time of the change.
C. 
Extension or addition.
[Amended 5-9-1994 ATM by Art. 22]
(1) 
Alteration, extension or change. As provided in MGL c. 40A, § 6, a nonconforming single- or two-family dwelling may be altered or extended, provided that the Building Inspector determines that doing so does not increase the nonconforming nature of said structure.
(2) 
Other alteration, extension or change to a preexisting nonconforming structure or use may be permitted by special permit in accord with the requirements and procedures of § 145-69 if the Board of Appeals finds that such alteration, extension or change shall not be more detrimental to the neighborhood than the existing nonconforming use.
[Amended 5-9-1994 ATM by Art. 23]
(3) 
For the purpose of this subsection, any alteration to the interior of a preexisting nonconforming structure made solely for the purpose of accommodating a change in or to a conforming use shall be deemed not to be substantially more detrimental to the neighborhood than the existing nonconforming structure and shall be allowable as a matter of right; provided, however, that such interior alterations comply with all other applicable requirements of the town.
[Amended 5-8-1995 ATM by Art. 26]
D. 
Restoration. A structure devoted to a nonconforming use (whether in whole or in parts) or a building or structure which is nonconforming as to front, rear and side yard setback, frontage or area may, if damaged or destroyed by fire or other accidental cause, be repaired or reconstructed within the same portion of the lot and to the same extent in size and use as before, provided that such repair or reconstruction is substantially completed within 24 months of the date of the damage or destruction.
E. 
Usage termination. Nonconforming uses or structures which are not used for a period of two years shall not be reestablished, and any future use shall conform to this chapter.
F. 
Changes. Once changed to a conforming use, no structure or land shall be permitted to revert to a nonconforming use.

§ 145-18 Accessory structures.

A. 
Non-attached accessory structures shall not be located within the required front yard setback area.
B. 
Attached accessory structures shall conform to Article V of this chapter.
C. 
No detached structure shall be located in any side or rear yard area nearer to the side or rear lot line than 10 feet.
D. 
In a mobile home park, detached accessory structures shall be limited to a total of 350 square feet on each mobile home site. Such accessory structure shall not be located on a site any closer than three feet to the side or rear lot line and shall be located no closer to the front lot line than the mobile home structure.
[Amended 5-9-1994 ATM by Art. 24]

§ 145-19 Temporary structures.

A. 
Upon application to the Building Inspector, an owner of real estate located within the Town of Belchertown may seek permission to be allowed to reside with his/her family in a temporary structure, which shall include but not be limited to a mobile home, on said real estate, which proposed habitation is necessitated by a disaster rendering their residence or said property unfit for human habitation. If the Building Inspector grants such permission it shall not exceed 12 months from the date of the permit. In considering the granting of any such extension(s), the Building Inspector shall determine if the restoration and/or reconstruction of said residence on said premises has proceeded in a diligent manner.
B. 
It is not the intent of this provision that individuals shall have the right to reside within a temporary structure either conflicting or in conflict with other provisions of this chapter, but only under the circumstances outlined in this section.

§ 145-20 Corner lots.

A. 
All corner lots shown on plans of land (MGL c. 41, §§ 81P, 81S and 81T) shall be required to have a curve radius as established in the Chapter 270, Subdivision of Land, § 270-35E(2), as amended.
B. 
All corner lots shall have the minimum frontage requirements. Frontage measurements shall be made by extending the property line of the corner lot and extending the property line of the existing or proposed right-of-way until the two lines intersect. Frontage shall be measured uninterrupted along the street right-of-way line on which the lot abuts to the point of intersection of the two extended property lines. (See illustrative example.)
Corner Lot
C. 
Extension of said property lines is for administrative purposes only and does not constitute a rescinding of the curb requirements as established in Chapter 270, Subdivision of Land, § 270-35E(2), as amended.
D. 
All corner lots shown on plans of land shall be accompanied by a deed to the owner of said lot describing the area necessary to complete the linear frontage line.
E. 
The front yard setbacks facing on both frontages on a corner lot shall conform to Article V of this chapter.

§ 145-21 Fences; swimming pools.

A. 
No fence shall be erected or maintained in the front yard of a corner lot in a manner which interferes with traffic visibility across the corner.
B. 
Fences shall be placed with the most attractive side (e.g., in the case of a picket fence, the side without horizontal members) facing the street and neighboring properties. All commercial chain link fences, including posts and rails, must be black or green so to blend into the landscape.
[Amended 5-11-2009 ATM by Art. 14]
C. 
The maximum height of a fence shall be six feet, except in the B-2 zone. In the B-2 Zone the maximum height of a fence shall be eight feet.
[Amended 5-11-2009 ATM by Art. 14]
D. 
All swimming pools which contain more than 18 inches of water (below grade), or any aboveground pool with a wall height of more than 18 inches but less than 48 inches above ground level, shall be enclosed as described below:
(1) 
Such enclosures, including any gates, shall be secured against unauthorized entry and must not be less than four feet in height. (Public or semipublic pools must have enclosures of not less than six feet in height.)
(2) 
A structure or accessory structure may be used as part of such enclosure, provided that there are no windows, doors or other openings which open into the pool enclosure that cannot be made secure against unauthorized entry.
E. 
Aboveground pools which have a wall height of 48 inches or more above the ground level shall be considered to have complied with the above regulations, provided that any decks, docks, ladders or catwalks within six feet of said pools shall be secured against unauthorized entry.
F. 
Livestock fencing is addressed in § 145-24.
[Added 5-12-2008 ATM by Art. 18]
G. 
A special permit granting authority may allow a higher fence under a special permit when determined to be necessary for safety or security.
[Added 5-11-2009 ATM by Art. 14]

§ 145-22 Signs.

[Amended 5-12-1997 ATM by Art. 13; 5-11-2009 ATM by Art. 13]
A. 
Purpose. The purpose of this section is to:
(1) 
Ensure that signage does not contribute a visual blight upon the landscape and the character of the Town of Belchertown;
(2) 
Maintain and enhance the aesthetic environments and the Town's ability to attract sources of economic development;
(3) 
Encourage signs which, by their location and design, are harmonious with the buildings and sites which they occupy, and which eliminate excessive and confusing sign display;
(4) 
Improve pedestrian and traffic safety; and
(5) 
Enable fair and consistent enforcement of these sign regulations.
B. 
Applicability. The provisions of this section shall apply to the construction, erection, alteration, use, illumination, location and maintenance of all signs located out-of-doors, including signs affixed on any part of a building, freestanding signs, and signs visible through windows from outside a building. Any sign in the Historic District must be approved by the Historic District Bylaw Commission prior to the grant of a permit.
C. 
Definitions. As used herein this § 145-22, the following words and terms shall have and include the following respective meanings.
AWNING SIGN
A permanent sign affixed to or consisting of a permanent or retractable awning or marquee permanently mounted to the exterior surface of a building.
BANNER
A temporary sign, typically promoting special civic events sponsored by public or private not-for-profit organizations, usually made of lightweight fabric, plastic or other flexible materials and mounted on the face of a building or hung from a pole or suspended over a street.
BILLBOARD
A large display advertising goods or services not necessarily sold where the sign is located.
CANOPY
A sign painted on or incorporated into the cover of an awning, canopy or other fixed or retractable protective cover attached to a building or structure, and typically located over a door, entrance, window or outdoor service area.
DIRECTORY SIGN
An on-premises sign identifying individual tenants or occupants of a building or group of buildings and that may indicate their respective professions or business activities.
DISPLAY AREA
The total surface area of a sign, including all lettering, wording, designs, symbols, background and frame, but not including any support structure or bracing incidental to the sign.
ELECTRONIC VARIABLE MESSAGE SIGN
An electrically activated sign or portion thereof whose alphabetic, pictographic or symbolic informational content can be changed or altered at intermittent intervals on a fixed display surface by means of computer-programmed electronic impulses, remote control or similar technology.
ERECTING
Any installing, constructing, reconstructing, replacing, relocating or extending of a sign, but shall not include repairing, maintaining, relettering, or repainting of an existing sign.
FREESTANDING SIGN
A self-supporting sign not attached to any building, wall, or fence, but in a fixed location. This does not include portable or trailer-type signs.
IDENTIFICATION SIGN
An off-premises sign which indicates the direction, distance to or general site location of a building, business development or geographic area. An identification sign may contain the name, address, logo, trademark or other generic identifying symbol of the building or development, but it does not list or advertise individual businesses or commercial enterprises within the development.
ILLUMINATED SIGN
Any sign artificially illuminated, either internally or externally, by means of electricity, gas, oil, or fluorescent paint.
MENU BOARD
A freestanding sign that displays menu items and prices that is located on the premises of a food service establishment offering drive-through window service.
MOVABLE SIGN
A sign not permanently attached to the ground or other permanent structure, or a sign designed to be transported, including but not limited to: portable signs mounted on a chassis and wheels; unregistered motor vehicles and trailers with signage; signs supported by legs, including A-frames or T-frames; menu and sandwich board signs; and balloons and other inflatable devices used as signs. Movable signs are classified as temporary signs.
OFF-PREMISES SIGN
Any sign that directs attention to an occupant, business, commodity, service, or entertainment conducted, sold, or offered at a location other than the lot on which the sign is located. See § 145-22D(3)(f).
ON-PREMISES SIGN
Any sign that directs attention to an occupant, business, commodity, service, or entertainment conducted, sold, or offered at a location where the sign is erected or maintained.
PENNANT/FLAG
A flag or similar device hung on a pole or on the face of a building, decorated with graphics, designs, artwork, symbols and/ or lettering. Pennants that contain no commercial advertising messages, logos or symbols are not considered signs under this article. Bunting and patriotic flags, such as United States, Massachusetts or Town flags, are not considered signs and are exempt from this article.
POLITICAL SIGN
A sign of a nonpermanent nature relating to a candidate for public office, an issue to be voted on at a town meeting or an election, or some other issue which may be of general concern, interest or controversy.
PROJECTING SIGN
A sign which is permanently affixed to the exterior surface of a building or structure with the display area positioned perpendicular to the wall to which the sign is mounted. A projecting sign may be erected on a building provided the display area shall not exceed 12 square feet in the Business and Industrial Districts and six square feet in the Residential and Agricultural Districts. Projecting signs are prohibited in the Historic District. The thickness between sign faces shall not exceed one foot. A projecting sign shall not project more than three feet from the face of a wall and maintain a minimum clearance of eight feet over a walkway or sidewalk.
ROOF SIGN
A sign located above, or projected above, the lowest point of the eaves or the top of the parapet wall of any building, or which is painted on or fastened to a roof or parapet wall.
SPECIAL EVENT SIGN
A temporary noncommercial promotional sign displayed for special events sponsored by religious, governmental or legitimate charitable organizations, which may be in the form of a poster, banner or other nonpermanent or flexible device.
TEMPORARY SIGN
Any sign, including its support structure, not permanently mounted and intended to be maintained for a reasonably short or definite period.
WALL SIGN
Any sign which is painted on, incorporated into, or affixed parallel to the wall of a building. The sign shall project no more than 15 inches out from the building. Mounting hardware shall be placed to minimize its visibility.
WINDOW SIGN
A sign affixed to the surface of a window (inside or outside) or displayed behind a window so as to attract attention from the outside.
D. 
General regulations.
(1) 
Permits.
(a) 
No new sign exceeding one square foot shall hereafter be erected, constructed or altered without the approval of the owner, rendered in accord with 780 CMR Art. 29, Sec. 2901.1, except as herein provided, and until after a permit has been issued by the Building Commissioner. All signs, wherever located, must be in conformity with the State Building Code.
(b) 
Application. All applications for signs requiring a sign permit shall be made to the Building Commissioner using the Town of Belchertown's approved application form. The application must be signed by the owner of the sign and the owner of the lot where the sign is to be erected. The Building Commissioner shall have the authority to reject any sign permit application which is not complete when submitted.
(c) 
Time limitations. The Building Commissioner shall approve or disapprove any application for a sign permit within 30 days of receipt of the application. If the Building Commissioner should fail to approve or disapprove an application for a sign permit within such thirty-day period, the application shall be deemed to be approved.
(d) 
Fees. The Board of Selectmen shall establish and from time to time review a sign permit fee which shall be published as part of a sign permit application form and be paid to the Building Commissioner upon application for each sign permit issued under this section.
(2) 
Signs that do not require a sign permit.
(a) 
Temporary construction signs. One temporary sign, not exceeding 10 square feet, except as required under federal and state agency regulations, denoting the architect, engineer, owner and contractor performing construction, repair, renovation or development currently in progress on the premises where the sign is located is permitted, provided that for a subdivision a separate sign may be placed at each street entrance thereto, and further provided that the sign or signs shall be promptly removed within 48 hours upon completion of construction, repair or renovation.
(b) 
Special event signs, provided that such a temporary promotional sign:
[1] 
Shall be firmly anchored;
[2] 
Shall be removed within 48 hours after the event to which it relates has taken place;
[3] 
Shall not be attached to a fence, utility pole, tree or similar structure on public property;
[4] 
Shall not exceed 10 square feet; and
[5] 
May be erected on Town property with the consent of the Board of Selectmen or their designee and the Zoning Enforcement Officer.
[6] 
Hand-held signs shall be exempted from Subsection D(2)(b)[1] above.
(c) 
Political, ideological, or charitable message signs. Display or expressions of political, ideological or charitable ideas shall be exempt from the provisions of this section, provided that no such sign shall be affixed to a tree or utility pole in a public way.
(d) 
Real estate signs. One real estate sign having an area of not more than 10 square feet and advertising the sale, rental or lease of the premises on which it is maintained is permitted. In a residential district, one for sale, rent or lease sign shall be allowed per lot, and one such sign shall be permitted for each business or establishment in any other zoning district. Such a sign shall not be illuminated, may be a movable sign and shall be removed immediately following the closing of a sale, lease or rental agreement.
(e) 
Agricultural signs. A sign associated with an agricultural use as referred to in § 3 of MGL c. 40A, offering for sale produce and other farm products. The maximum display area of such sign shall be 12 square feet. Such sign may be movable.
(f) 
Fuel pump signs. Fuel pump signs located on service station fuel pumps identifying the name or type of fuel and price thereof.
(g) 
Governmental signs. Signs, including movable signs, erected and maintained by the Town of Belchertown, the Belchertown Water District, the City of Springfield, the Town of Amherst, the Bondsville Water and Fire District, any other municipal corporation, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, or the federal government on any land, building or structure in use by such governmental entity. Any other signs erected by such governmental entity at any location required for public or environmental health, safety or notification purposes, or announcing the date, time and place of elections or Town meetings.
(h) 
Identification signs. For single- and two-family residential uses in any zoning district, one sign on a lot identifying the occupants of the dwelling, an authorized home occupation and/or any other use which is conducted on the lot and is permitted in a residential district. In a residential district, one sign on a lot identifying a nonconforming use. All such signs shall not exceed two square feet of display area and shall not be illuminated, except when coincidental to the illumination of a building, driveway or similar feature.
(i) 
Landmark signs. Any sign determined by the Board of Selectmen to be of particular artistic or historic merit that is unique or extraordinarily significant to the Town. Such a sign may be new or old, it may or may not comply with this section, it may be a picture, mural, statue, sculpture or other form of artistic expression, it may warrant preservation in its original form or may be in need of restoration, or it may be a marker to identify or commemorate a particular significant location, a historic event or person, or a natural feature.
(j) 
Menu signs. One menu sign per restaurant, affixed to the exterior wall of a restaurant with a maximum display area of two square feet.
(k) 
Multifamily dwelling signs. A sign identifying the name of a multifamily residential dwelling, not exceeding six square feet in display area. If freestanding, its height shall not exceed four feet above ground level and if mounted to the exterior wall of a building no portion thereof shall be higher than six feet from the ground.
(l) 
Religious signs. Signs identifying a religious use and erected on the same lot as the religious use. Such signs shall not be illuminated and shall be limited to one wall sign with a maximum display area of 12 square feet, and one freestanding sign with a maximum display area of eight square feet and a maximum height of five feet.
(m) 
Traffic signs. Standard traffic signs and control devices. Sign limitations do not apply to traffic or directional signs which are necessary for the safety and direction of residents, employees, customers and visitors, whether in a vehicle or on foot, of any business, industry or residence. Such signs shall not carry the name of any business or project.
(n) 
Window signs. Signs printed or placed on the outside surface of a window, other than a neon sign, provided that their aggregate display area covers no more than 20% of the window in which they are erected. Such sign shall not be illuminated. Window signs promoting a public service or charitable event shall not be calculated in the allowable 20%. There shall be not more than one such sign allowed per principal use.
(o) 
Neon window signs. Neon window signs provided that the display area shall not exceed 10 square feet or cover more than 20% of the window in which they are erected, whichever is less. There shall be not more than one such sign allowed per principal use. As with any other sign, a neon window sign shall not be illuminated longer than 30 minutes before opening or after closing of the store or business.
(p) 
Tag sale and similar event signs. One sign, which may be a movable sign, on the lot where the sale occurs, displaying only the words "tag sale" or similar words specific to the event together with the date of the event. Such sign shall not exceed six square feet in display area and shall not be illuminated. Such sign shall not be erected sooner than three days before the sale, and it shall be removed not later than one day after the sale. In no case shall such a sign be erected on a lot for more than five days per calendar year.
(3) 
Prohibited signs. All signs not conforming to the provisions of this section are specifically prohibited, and include, but are not limited to, the following sign types.
(a) 
Billboards, movable signs, projecting signs and roof signs are not permitted.
(b) 
Streamers, pennants, ribbons, balloons and other inflatable objects, objects through which air is blown, spinners or other similar devices shall not be constructed, posted or erected. Exceptions include flags and buntings exhibited to commemorate national patriotic holidays, and temporary banners announcing charitable or civic events.
(c) 
Moving, flashing or animated signs, including signs containing reflective elements which sparkle in the sunlight, are not permitted. Electronic variable message signs are not permitted except that such signs indicating only the current time and/or temperature are allowed, provided they meet all other provisions of this section.
(d) 
No sign shall be designed in shape, color, placement or display characteristics to resemble traffic signals or traffic control signs nor otherwise impair or cause confusion of vehicular or pedestrian traffic.
(e) 
Any sign advertising or identifying a business or organization which is either defunct or no longer located on the premises is not permitted and shall be removed.
(f) 
Off-premises signs per § 145-22C. No sign shall be located off the premises to which it applies, except that directional, informational, or identification signs may be allowed by special permit by the Zoning Board of Appeals where such signs will serve the public convenience and not be detrimental to the neighborhood with respect to size, location or design. Individual off-premises signs shall be unlit and shall not be over four square feet in area. Where appropriate, and subject to design review, off-premises signs shall be grouped together at strategic locations, and may be externally lit. (See § 145-22F.)
(g) 
No sign shall be erected or maintained in such a manner as to create a hazard or disturbance to the health, safety and welfare of the general public.
(h) 
No sign shall obstruct or impair traffic visibility for the motorist at a street corner, intersection or driveway entrance or exit.
(i) 
No sign shall be placed on Town property or within the right-of-way of the Town without approval from the Board of Selectmen.
(j) 
Any sign designed to be transported by means of wheels and signs attached to or painted on vehicles parked and visible from a street or a right-of-way customarily used by the general public, unless said vehicle is registered and used, as a vehicle, in the normal day-to-day operations of the business.
(k) 
Any sign projecting above the lowest point of the eaves of a building or beyond a building corner.
(l) 
No signs, graphics, pictures, publications, videotapes, movies, covers, merchandise or other implements, items or advertising depicting, describing or relating to sexual conduct or sexual excitement as defined in MGL c. 272, § 31 shall be displayed in the windows of, or on the building of, any adult entertainment establishment, or be visible to the public from the pedestrian sidewalks or walkways or from other areas outside such establishments.
(4) 
Protection of First Amendment rights. Any sign authorized with or without a permit under this section may, in lieu of any specified copy, contain any lawful, noncommercial message that does not direct attention to a business or to a property, service or commodity for sale.
E. 
Sign dimensions/height.
(1) 
Display area: The combined and total square foot area of a sign or signs, either on or off the premises, shall be measured as defined below and in accordance with Table E-1.
(a) 
The display area of a sign shall be considered to include all lettering, wording, and accompanying designs and symbols, together with the background on which they are displayed, any frame around the sign and any cutouts or extensions, but shall not include any supporting structure or bracing.
(b) 
The display area of a sign consisting of individual letters or symbols attached to or painted on a surface, building, wall, canopy or window, shall be the smallest rectangle or triangle which encompasses all of the letters and symbols. See Figure E-1 below.
Figure E-1
145 Figure E-1.tif
(c) 
For three-dimensional signs, double-faced signs greater than four inches thick, objects used as signs, and V-shaped signs: the area shall be determined by the largest of either the front (A) or side (B) projected view of the sign. See Figure E-2 below.
Figure E-2
145 Figure E-2.tif
(d) 
In computing the area of signs with two faces placed back-to-back, the area shall be taken as the area of either face, or if the faces are unequal, the larger shall determine the area, except as in Subsection E(1)(c) above.
(e) 
Any support structure or bracing incidental to the sign shall not project more than one foot, in any direction, from the display area.
(f) 
The display area of a wall sign or freestanding sign may not exceed 10% of the area of the front face square footage (FFSF), as computed by the length times the width of the building facade to which such sign is attached. In no case shall the sign be larger than the maximum sign display area for the district in which the building is located.
(g) 
A wall sign shall not be placed such that it covers architectural elements such as cornices, columns, arches, details, or other such building features or ornamentation, and, if the architectural detail of the building necessitates, the sign may be broken up into two pieces, provided that the pieces are oriented in the same manner relative to the wall, parallel to each other, and the total area of the two signs does not exceed the maximum allowable of 10% of the wall face. See Figure E-3 below.
Figure E-3
145 Figure E-3.tif
(h) 
In no case shall any sign exceed the maximum indicated in Table E-1, below.
Table E-1
District
Maximum Display Area Per Sign
(in square feet)
Maximum Total Display Area1
(in square feet)
Height
(in feet)
Agricultural A (AG-A)
6
12
6
Agricultural B (AG-B)
6
8
6
Village Residential (VR)
6
8
6
Lakes Residential (LR)
6
8
6
Multiple-Dwelling Residential (MDR)
40
40
6
Mobile Home Park
40
40
6
Limited Business (B-1)
20
40
12
General Business (B-2)
80
100
18
Light Industrial (LI)
40
80
18
Industrial (I)
40
80
18
Notes:
1Per business for commercial uses and per land use on a lot.
(2) 
Height:
(a) 
The top of the display area of freestanding signs permitted under this section shall not exceed height standards listed in Table E-1 above the average grade as measured within a twenty-foot radius of the center, laterally, of the sign, in any district. No filling, berming, mounding, or excavating may be done solely for the purpose of altering the allowed height of the sign. The Building Commissioner or Zoning Enforcement Officer may permit a sign in height greater than the standards listed in Table E-1 where the physical characteristics of the lot prevent adequate setback from public ways and a lower sign would create a potential traffic hazard. See Figure E-4 below.
Figure E-4
145 Figure E-4.tif
(b) 
The top of the display area of a wall sign shall be placed no higher than whichever of the following is lowest: 25 feet above grade; bottom of the sills of the first level of windows above the first story; or one foot below the height of the building line.
(c) 
Signs on adjacent storefronts should be coordinated in height, type and proportion. The use of a continuous sign band for adjacent shops within the same building is encouraged, as a unifying element.
F. 
Illumination standards. The following standards apply to all signs illuminated internally or externally by electric power.
(1) 
Lighting shall be nonflashing, nonblinking and shall not be designed to attract attention by a change in intensity or by repeated motion.
(2) 
Signs shall also be nonmoving and nonanimated, shall not interfere with traffic visibility and shall not protrude over any lot line.
(3) 
Any illumination provided shall be of one color only, for example, only white, or only red, but not both.
(4) 
Any sign illuminated by an external light source shall have the light source projected downward from above and shall be shielded from view off the premises so that no direct light extends above ground level beyond the property lines on which the sign is located.
(5) 
No sign shall constitute a hazard to pedestrian or vehicular traffic because of the intensity or direction of illumination.
(6) 
No sign shall be illuminated longer than 30 minutes before opening or after closing of any store or business.
(7) 
The display area of an illuminated sign shall neither emit nor reflect light with an average intensity greater than 50 footcandles measured directly on the surface of the sign or signs shall neither emit nor reflect light with an average intensity greater than 50 footcandles at 100 feet from the sign.
(8) 
Light fixtures, including bulbs or tubes, used for sign illumination should be selected and positioned to achieve the desired brightness of the sign with the minimum possible wattage while ensuring compliance with all applicable requirements of this section. Where possible, the fixtures used for sign illumination should classify as "energy efficient," as defined by the power utility company serving the lot.
(9) 
The following types of signs with internal or quasi-internal illumination shall be permitted, provided that they comply with all applicable standards of this section. The word "opaque," as used in the following subsections, shall mean that the opaque object shall appear black when the sign is lit at night.
(a) 
Neon signs, erected on a lot in place of a sign otherwise permitted, provided it features an individualized, custom made design showing only a drawing, logo, symbol or illustration, but not letters. A neon sign hereunder shall comply with all applicable dimensional standards. It shall be composed of primarily single-strand glass tubing with a maximum one-inch diameter.
(b) 
Opaque individual letter signs or symbols, back-lit with a white and concealed light source, thereby creating an effect by which the letters or symbols are silhouetted against a wall illuminated by said light source.
(c) 
Signs featuring individual letters or symbols which are cut out from an opaque facing and back-lit with a white and concealed light source, thereby creating an effect by which the facing, from which the letters or symbols are cut out, is silhouetted against a wall illuminated by said light source.
(d) 
Back-lit awning signs with the light source internal or concealed from public view. Such signs shall not be permitted in the Historic District.
(e) 
Individual letter signs with translucent letter faces, internally illuminated with a soft-glow light source; or signs with an opaque sign face with cutout translucent letter surfaces which are internally illuminated with a soft-glow light source. Such signs shall not be permitted in the Historic District.
G. 
Additional standards.
(1) 
Freestanding signs.
(a) 
No part of a freestanding sign is to be located closer than 15 feet from any lot line and a minimum of 20 feet from any public walkway, site accessway or street, and no portion of a freestanding sign shall be located within the airspace above this setback. See Figure G-1 below.
 
Figure G-1
145 Figure G-1.tif
(b) 
The dimensions of a freestanding sign shall conform to the requirements of § 145-22E above.
(c) 
Not more than one freestanding sign may be erected on any lot, regardless of the number of tenants or occupants of the property, provided that the Planning Board acting as special permit granting authority may grant a special permit for one additional freestanding sign if such additional sign is determined necessary due to the specific combination of uses on the lot.
(d) 
Freestanding signs may be lighted on both sides. Any illumination provided for signs shall conform to the requirements of § 145-22F above.
(e) 
A freestanding sign shall be integrated into the landscape design of the lot or parcel. It shall be centered within a landscaped area located on the lot or parcel with a minimum area in square feet to be equal to the overall height of the sign multiplied by two, by the power of two. (Example: sign height = six feet: six feet x two feet = 12 feet.; 12 feet x 12 feet = 144 square feet = minimum landscaped area) Such landscaped area shall be planted and maintained with suitable vegetation, including shrubs and flowering perennials surrounding the base of the freestanding sign. The landscaped area required under this section may be provided as part of a landscaped area required under any other section of this section.
(f) 
Menu boards shall be a maximum of 30 square feet, with a maximum height of six feet, and shall face away from the street. Menu boards shall be screened from view from the public street.
(2) 
Multiple signs.
(a) 
Where more than one sign is desired, several signs may be used, provided that their total combined area does not exceed the amounts shown in the schedule (Table E-1). The combined area of all signs, whether on or off the premises, shall not exceed the amounts allowed in this schedule.
(b) 
When several businesses are located on one lot, these standards shall apply to each business.
(c) 
One directory sign, not to exceed an area of 12 inches by 18 inches for each additional occupant of the premises and not in excess of 100 square feet, may be permitted by the Board of Appeals within General Business, Industrial and Light Industrial Zones when several businesses are located within one property, as in a shopping center or industrial park.
(3) 
Compatibility. Proposed signs will be considered in relation to the character of the neighborhood and the architecture, colors and material of the building and should be compatible in terms of the appropriateness of the size, color, shape, material and design. Signs should be informative, legible and designed to improve the quality of the street scene.
(4) 
Discontinuance of sign-related use. All signs erected for a permitted use, use by a special permit or a special event, including a sign advertising the sale or rental of premises, shall be promptly removed within 48 hours when the circumstances leading to their erection no longer apply.
H. 
Enforcement.
(1) 
Maintenance and removal. Every sign shall be maintained in good structural conditions at all times. All signs shall be kept neatly painted, including all metal parts and supports thereof that are not galvanized or of rust resistant material. The Building Commissioner or the Zoning Enforcement Officer shall inspect and shall have the authority to order the painting, repair, alteration or removal of a sign which shall constitute a hazard to safety, health or public welfare by reason of inadequate maintenance, dilapidation, or obsolescence.
(2) 
Abandoned signs. Except as otherwise provided in this article, any sign that is located on property which becomes vacant and is unoccupied for a period of three months or more, or any sign which pertains to a time, event or purpose which no longer applies, shall be deemed to have been abandoned. Permanent signs applicable to a business temporarily suspended because of a change of ownership or management of such business shall not be deemed abandoned, unless the property remains vacant for a period of six months of more. An abandoned sign is prohibited and shall be removed by the owner of the sign or owner of the premises.
(3) 
Dangerous or defective signs. No person shall maintain or permit to be maintained on any premises owned or controlled by him any sign which is in a dangerous or defective condition. Any such sign shall be removed or repaired by the owner of the sign or the owner of the premises.
(4) 
Removal of signs by the Building Commissioner or Zoning Enforcement Officer.
(a) 
The Building Commissioner or Zoning Enforcement Officer shall cause to be removed any sign that endangers the public safety, such as an abandoned, dangerous, or materially, electrically, or structurally defective sign, or a sign for which no permit has been issued.
(b) 
The Building Commissioner or Zoning Enforcement Officer shall prepare a notice which shall describe the sign and specify the violation involved and which shall state that, if the sign is not removed or the violation is not corrected within 20 days, the sign shall be removed in accordance with the provisions of this section.
(c) 
All such notices shall either be hand-delivered or sent by certified mail. Any time periods provided in this section shall be deemed to commence on the date of the receipt of the certified mail. For all other signs, the notice shall be mailed to the owner of the property on which the sign is located as shown on the last equalized assessment roll. If known, or with reasonable care should be known, the notice shall be mailed to or delivered to the owner of the sign and the occupant of the property.
(5) 
Appeals. Any person having an interest in the sign or the property may appeal the determination of the Building Commissioner or Zoning Enforcement Officer ordering removal or compliance by filing a written notice with the Town Clerk within 30 days from the date of the determination as provided in MGL c. 40A, § 15.
(6) 
Nonconforming signs. Any nonconforming sign lawfully existing at the time of adoption of this section or subsequent amendment of this section although such does not conform to the provisions of this section, subject to the following:
(a) 
Nonconforming signs accessory to a use or uses shall be removed or replaced concurrently with any expansion of such use or uses. Such nonconforming signs shall be replaced with a conforming sign or signs prior to the issuance of an occupancy permit for any building into which the use or uses are to be expanded.
(b) 
Any sign replacing a nonconforming sign shall conform with the provisions of this section, and the nonconforming sign will no longer be displayed.
(c) 
Nothing herein shall be deemed to prevent orderly, regular and timely maintenance, repair and repainting with the same original colors of a nonconforming sign.
(7) 
Penalties. A violation of any provision of this section shall be subject to a fine of not more than $100 per offense. Each day of violation shall constitute a separate offense.
I. 
Miscellaneous provisions.
(1) 
Conflict with other laws. In the event of a conflict between this section and any such laws and regulations, the provisions of this section shall control, provided that they are consistent with state and federal law.
(2) 
Severability. If any section or provision of this section is found by a court of competent jurisdiction to be invalid, such invalidity shall not affect the validity of any other section or provision of this section.

§ 145-23 Parking and loading areas.

A. 
For handicapped parking regulations, refer to Chapter 129, Vehicles and Traffic, Article II, Handicapped Parking, of the Code of the Town of Belchertown.
B. 
Schedule of Off-Street Parking Requirements. In all districts there shall be provided and maintained off-street parking in conjunction with the construction, conversion and/or expansion of any structure, as well as upon the expansion or change in use, located on the lot, or on a lot under the same ownership within 300 feet of the structure, in at least the following minimum amounts for the following uses:
Type of Use
Number of Spaces
Residential Uses
Single-dwelling unit
2 per unit
Multi- or attached dwelling unit
2 per unit, plus 1 for visitor parking per 10 spaces of required resident parking
Boardinghouse, lodging house, guest house or other group accommodations
1 per bedroom, in addition to the parking required of the dwelling unit
Mobile home park
3 per unit (at least 2 must be situated on the individual mobile home site)
Home occupation
1 for between 0 and 300 square feet of floor area and 1 additional for that which exceeds the initial 300 square feet, in addition to the requirement for the use permitted by right
Government, Institutional and Public Service Uses
Community residence and apartments exclusively for the elderly and handicapped
1 for each living unit or 1 for each 3 beds, whichever is greater; for facilities with more than 6 beds, add 1 space per employee
Hospital or nursing home
1 for each 3 beds, plus 1 for each 2 employees based on the numerically largest shift
Place of public assembly, including a theater, auditorium and funeral parlor
1 for each 3 seats or, if seats are not fixed, 1 for each 20 square feet of floor area visible for seating and 1 for each 100 square feet of gross floor area
Public and private school (grades 1 to 12, inclusive)
1 for each 4 seats or 8 linear feet of bench or 1 for each 20 square feet of floor area visible for seating where seating is not provided
Business Uses
Retail store and service establishment
1 for each 150 square feet of gross floor area and outdoor sales space, exclusive of storage space
Eating and drinking establishment
1 for each 3 seats, plus 1 for each employee, provided that drive-in establishments shall provide 1 space for each 50 square feet of gross floor area plus 1 space for each employee
Business office or bank
1 for each 200 square feet of gross floor area
Medical or dental office
1 for each 150 square feet of gross floor area, plus 1 for each employee
Bowling alley
4 per lane
Laundromat
1 for each 4 machines
Roller- or ice-skating rink
1 for each 3 persons, maximum capacity
Tennis, handball and racquetball court (except where a single court is an accessory structure to a residential dwelling)
2 for each court, plus 1 additional for every 5 spaces
Automobile service station
3 for each service bay, plus 1 for each employee
Health fitness, multi-use or similar recreational facility
1 for each 200 square feet of gross area
Hotel or motel
1 per bedroom
Industrial Uses
Wholesale establishment, manufacturing and industrial use or research operation
1 for each person employed on the largest shift, plus 1 for each company-owned vehicle
C. 
General. For cases not specifically enumerated herein, adequate parking areas shall be provided off the traveled way. All uses shall have adequate off-street parking to accommodate customers, patrons and employees. Parking on a public or private street or way adjacent to the premises shall be considered evidence of the inadequacy of the off-street parking space provided for both new uses and a conversion or expansion of existing uses.
D. 
Design standards.
(1) 
Size. Off-street parking spaces shall be not less than nine feet wide by 18 feet long each and shall be clearly delineated within the lot, for all uses except multiple-dwelling units.
(2) 
Parking aisles. Parking aisles shall be a minimum of 18 feet wide for angle parking and 24 feet wide for perpendicular parking, for all uses except single-dwelling units.
(3) 
Location. Parking areas shall be constructed so that vehicles do not have to back into a public way or across a sidewalk.
(4) 
Landscaping and screening.
(a) 
Parking areas that abut public ways or residentially zoned property must be separated from the public way or property line by a minimum ten-foot-wide landscaped strip, for all uses except single-dwelling units. Screening within this strip shall be provided except where the parking area is already screened from the residential premises or the public way by a natural terrain feature. Such screening shall be a solid wall or fence, not less than five feet in height. In lieu of such a fence, a compact evergreen hedge of not less than three feet in height at the time of original planting may be used. The fence, wall and/or hedge shall be maintained in good condition, and no advertising shall be placed thereon. The screening shall be designed so that vehicle sight distance shall not be affected at entrances and exits and at street intersections.
(b) 
Large parking areas providing more than 75 parking spaces shall be subdivided with landscaped islands such that no paved surface shall extend more than 80 feet in width. At least one tree (minimum two-inch caliper at chest height) per 35 spaces shall be provided.
(5) 
Lighting. All lighting shall be shielded from adjacent premises and public ways.
(6) 
Drainage. Drainage facilities for each parking area shall be designed and constructed to contain stormwater runoff on the premises or in a manner which will not impact abutting property.
E. 
Loading area requirements.
(1) 
General. All new business and industrial buildings and all enlargement of existing buildings requiring the delivery of goods as a substantial part of their function must be provided with necessary space for off-street loading as hereinafter set forth. No application for a permit for the erection of such new buildings shall be approved unless it includes a plan for off-street loading facilities in accordance with regulations set forth in this chapter.
(2) 
Loading spaces. A business, industrial, community facility (school, church, Town building, recreation, etc.) or public utility establishment with over 5,000 square feet of floor space shall be provided not less than the number of loading spaces indicated in the following table:
Floor Area of Building or Structure
(square feet)
Minimum Number of Loading Spaces
5,000 to 49,000
1
50,000 to 99,000
2
100,000 to 149,000
3
150,000 to 300,000
4
Each additional 100,000 beyond 300,000
1 additional
(3) 
Location. Every part of said loading area shall be located completely off the street or public way and shall be located in the side or rear yard.
(4) 
Size. Each loading bay shall have a minimum dimension of not less than 15 feet in width by 25 feet in length, with 14 feet of height clearance.
(5) 
Loading and unloading areas shall be located and designed such that the vehicles intended to use them can maneuver safely and conveniently to and from a public right-of-way and complete the loading and unloading operations without obstructing or interfering with any public right-of-way or any parking space or parking lot aisle.
(6) 
No area allocated to loading and unloading facilities may be used to satisfy the area requirements for off-street parking, nor shall any portion of any off-street parking area be used to satisfy the area requirements for loading and unloading facilities.

§ 145-24 Breeding, raising or keeping of animals.

[Amended 5-12-2008 ATM by Arts. 18, 19]
The breeding, raising and/or keeping of animals is permitted in Belchertown as a matter of right, subject to the following health and safety regulations. "Furbearing animals" is defined as animals raised to be killed for their pelts, such as mink or sable.
A. 
Goats, sheep, horses, swine, cows, poultry and similar livestock shall be kept on a lot:
(1) 
With structures set back in conformance with the front, rear and side yard requirements as defined in Article V of this chapter for a principal building of the zone in which they are located.
(2) 
With indoor and outdoor areas well drained and reasonably free of excess odor, dust, noise and mud, so as not to create a nuisance or health hazard to the surrounding property owners.
(3) 
With adequate fencing to contain the animals within the property boundaries.
(a) 
Animal fencing must not obstruct the view of traffic per § 145-21A.
(b) 
Animal fencing does not need to meet § 145-21B if it is installed for domestic livestock.
(4) 
In conformance with all regulations of the Belchertown Board of Health.
(5) 
On a lot whose size is a minimum of 40,000 square feet.
B. 
The raising of furbearing animals and swine shall be carried out in compliance with regulations of the Board of Health, Town of Belchertown, and in no case shall this activity be carried out within 500 feet of any property line.
C. 
Nothing in this section is intended to regulate the keeping, raising or breeding of animals as part of an agricultural enterprise, on five or more acres of land.