Town of Belchertown, MA
Hampshire County
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Table of Contents
Table of Contents
[Amended 5-12-2003 ATM by Art. 26; 5-12-2008 ATM by Art. 20]

§ 145-51 Development method; where permitted.

A. 
Open space community developments are allowed by right as a type of subdivision in designated zones. To ensure development that is compatible with the purposes and intent of this chapter, this development method must conform to the standards and comply with all appropriate criteria described in this article.
B. 
This development method applies only to residential development and shall be allowed as of right, but only in the Agricultural-A, Agricultural-B, and Village Residential Zones.
C. 
The development allowed under this article shall conform to Chapter 270, Subdivision of Land, of the Code of the Town of Belchertown.

§ 145-52 Purpose.

A. 
The objectives of the open space community development (OSCD) are:
(1) 
To set aside and preserve large tracts of land as open space as specified in this section and §§ 145-55 and 145-56 of this article.
(2) 
To allow the relatively intensive use of land in an alternative pattern of development while maintaining existing character and by which the benefits and objectives described in Subsection B are likely to be attained.
(3) 
To provide a variety of housing opportunities for Belchertown residents of all income levels and social groups; specifically, to provide opportunities for smaller households, older residents, and first-time owners.
(4) 
To provide for such housing in ways that are most fiscally beneficial to the Town's municipal operations.
(5) 
To maintain and preserve a landscape that is biologically diverse and ecologically stable through creating and/or maintaining wildlife corridors and critical habitat.
B. 
Advantages of OSCD subdivisions:
(1) 
Provision of a diversity of housing stock in Belchertown.
(2) 
Economical and efficient street, utility and public facility installation, construction, and maintenance through creative design.
(3) 
Development that will permit the Town to continue to provide the quality of municipal service without imposing an increased burden on the citizens of Belchertown.
(4) 
Efficient use of land in harmony with its natural features.
(5) 
Preservation of water bodies and supplies, wetlands, woodlands, agricultural lands, wildlife habitat, sites and structures of historical importance, and areas of scenic beauty.
(6) 
Preservation of open spaces for active and passive recreational use, including the provision of neighborhood parks and playgrounds.
(7) 
Preservation of productive farmland and woodland.
(8) 
Preservation of open space areas for agricultural, forest management, and active and passive recreational use.
(9) 
Preservation of habitat for plant and animal species.

§ 145-53 Definitions.

Refer to § 145-2 of this chapter; also:
CHAPTER 270, SUBDIVISION OF LAND
The rules and regulations adopted by the Planning Board under MGL c. 41, § 81Q as of May 20, 2001, or as may have been amended or adopted as of the date of the submission of the application for OSCD definitive subdivision approval.
OPEN SPACE
Property within a subdivision designated to be deeded by the developer to the Town or other approved organization or to be maintained by the developer or owner in an undeveloped state in a manner approved by the Planning Board. Such open space is to be used for passive or active recreation, agriculture, forestry, preservation of ecologically significant landscapes, wildlife habitat, natural or scenic vistas, unique natural or cultural features, or greenways. Such open space shall be retained in substantially a natural, wild or open condition or in a landscaped condition in such a manner as to allow to a significant extent the preservation of wildlife or other natural resources. Open space shall not include areas designated for sediment control, erosion control, or stormwater control; such areas are considered part of the subdivision infrastructure and are not intended for recreation, agriculture, or forestry. Open space shall include no more than 15% of wetlands, surface waters, floodplains, or areas with unaltered slopes greater than 25% provided, however, that the Planning Board may allow the applicant to include a greater percentage of wetlands, surface waters, floodplains, or areas with unaltered slopes greater than 25% in such open space upon a demonstration that such inclusion promotes the purposes of this bylaw.
YIELD PLAN
A conceptual plan showing how the parcel could be subdivided in a conventional manner. Determination of the possible number of conventional lots shall be determined by Title V regulations, 310 CMR 15.000, as well as the Belchertown Board of Health regulations. For purposes of determining the number of OSCD dwelling units, each conceptual conventional lot must meet the requirements of a buildable lot for a single-family, or two-family, dwelling unit as defined in the zoning district in which the OSCD is located and meet all other applicable requirements of the Zoning Bylaw and Subdivision Regulations. In no case shall the number of OSCD dwelling units exceed the number of units that would be allowed under a conventional subdivision.

§ 145-54 OSCD development.

A. 
Permitted uses and standards.
(1) 
A detached single-unit dwelling, an attached single-unit dwelling, or a detached double-unit dwelling, any with an accessory building, may be constructed on certain lots in an OSCD development although such lots have less area, frontage and front, rear and side yard dimensions than required for standard single- and double-unit lots.
(2) 
The open space community development dimensional standards as specified in § 145-55 of this chapter shall be met.
(3) 
The Planning Board may allow no more than 20% of the total number of principal structures to be double-unit dwellings. These units shall be designated on the plan and in restrictions in the deeds of each separate property.
(4) 
The development tract for which an OSCD development is proposed shall be in single ownership or control at the time of application and shall not be less than the minimum size as specified in § 145-55 of this chapter.
(5) 
An OSCD development shall only be permitted on a tract of land which has access to and will be connected to a public sewer or where the percolation rates for the areas in which the on-site subsurface sewage disposal systems are to be located meet state Environmental Code (Title V, 310 CMR 15.211) and Belchertown Board of Health requirements.
(6) 
In determining the allowed number of lots, fractions over 1/2 may be increased to the nearest whole unit, and fractions under 1/2 shall be decreased to the nearest whole unit.
B. 
Density. The maximum number of dwelling units for an OSCD shall be determined by use of a yield plan, which is a conceptual plan showing how the parcel could be subdivided in a conventional manner. Determination of the possible number of conventional lots shall be determined by Title V regulations, 310 CMR 15.000, as well as the Belchertown Board of Health regulations. In no case shall the number of OSCD dwelling units exceed the number of units that would be allowed under a conventional subdivision. There shall be no further subdivision of an approved OSCD.
(1) 
For any tract with access to public sewers, the minimum lot size for an OSCD development shall be 15,000 square feet per lot. The Planning Board may waive this requirement when it serves the purposes of this bylaw.
(2) 
For any tract without access to public sewers, the minimum lot size for an OSCD development shall be 30,000 square feet per lot. The Planning Board may waive this requirement when it serves the purposes of this bylaw [refer to § 145-57C(3)].
(3) 
For those OSCD developments that do not have access to public sewers, the following standards shall apply to developments requiring on-site sewage disposal:
(a) 
The applicant shall submit a conceptual design showing suitable area per lot for a septic system design prepared by a certified engineer and approved by the Board of Health as well as a plan illustrating the location of water supply wells with the application. Such conceptual plan must also demonstrate a reserve area for a backup well and a backup septic system.
(b) 
All OSCD developments must meet the minimum state Environmental Code (Title V) requirements for minimum setbacks between private water supply wells and septic tanks or soil absorption systems (310 CMR 15.211).
(c) 
All OSCD developments must meet the minimum state Environmental Code (Title V) requirements for nitrogen loading limitations (310 CMR 15.214-15.217). For OSCDs with individual lot sizes less than 40,000 square feet, applicants must meet the following standards:
[1] 
Applicants must designate, on a plan, specific areas as "nitrogen credit land," based on the following equation:
(40,000 square feet x number of OSCD lots) – (total square feet in proposed OSRD lots) = square feet of required nitrogen credit land
Basic example: (40,000 x 15) – (15 x 30,000) = 150,000 square feet
Unit example:
Number of Units
Square Feet Per Lot per Unit
Number of Bedrooms per Unit
Estimated Lot Size Required Per Bedroom for Septic Loading1 (square feet)
Estimated Lot Size Required for Septic Loading
(square feet)
Estimated Required Total Lot Size
(square feet)
Total Required Nitrogen Credit Land
(square feet)
Single
8
30,000
3
10,000
30,000
240,000
80,000
Duplex
2
30,000
2
10,000
40,000
80,000
n/a
Total
10
300,000
32
n/a
n/a
320,000
80,000
NOTE:
1 Actual septic requirements may vary according to site-specific details, including, but not limited to, soils and topography.
[2] 
Nitrogen credit land must meet DEP qualifications contained in "Guidelines for Title 5 Aggregation of Flows and Nitrogen Loading 310CMR15.216," including, but not limited to, the following qualifications:
[a] 
Must be restricted to prohibit man-made sources of nitrogen, including sewage discharge, nitrogen-based fertilizer or raising and grazing of livestock;
[b] 
Must be restricted to prohibit artificially rendered imperviousness (i.e., paved streets, paved parking lots, buildings, structures, etc.);
[c] 
Not within a velocity zone or regulatory floodway identified by FEMA;
[d] 
Not under surface water;
[e] 
Not already being used as nitrogen credit land.
[3] 
All designated nitrogen credit land must be permanently restricted from further development under a "Grant of Title 5 Nitrogen Loading Restriction and Easement on Nitrogen Credit Land."
[4] 
After approval of the OSCD development plans, applicants must apply to the Board of Health and the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) for an aggregate determination of nitrogen loading under 310 CMR 15.216.
(d) 
It is required that septic tanks be installed on individually owned lots. Nitrogen credit land must be at least 100 feet from all private wells.

§ 145-55 Dimensional standards.

See the Table of Open Space Community Development Dimensional Standards.[1]
[1]
Editor's Note: The Table of Open Space Community Development Dimensional Standards is included at the end of this chapter.

§ 145-56 Open space land.

A. 
All open space land as required shall either:
(1) 
Be conveyed to the Town of Belchertown and be accepted by it for open space; or
(2) 
Be conveyed to a nonprofit organization, the principal purpose of which is the conservation of open space and related activities; or
(3) 
Be conveyed to an organization owned or controlled, or to be owned or controlled, by the owners of lots or residential units within the development. If such a corporation or trust is designated, as indicated herein, ownership shall pass with conveyance of the lots or residential units.
Further subdivision of open space land or its use other than for recreation, conservation, forest or agriculture, except for easements for underground utilities or drinking water supply wells, shall be prohibited. A deed restriction to this effect, approved by the Planning Board, shall be recorded prior to sale or development of any lots within the OSCD.
B. 
Under the second or third ownership alternatives listed above, a restriction enforceable by the Town of Belchertown shall be recorded, providing that such land shall be kept in an open or natural state, including recreational, agricultural, or forestry uses, and not be built upon for residential uses or developed for accessory uses, such as parking or roadway.
C. 
The location, size, and shape of open space shall be subject to the approval of the Planning Board. However, the minimum open space requirement for an OSCD shall be 35% of the total tract area.
D. 
The Planning Board will make the final determination of the composition of the common usable open space; this common usable open space may include wetlands, floodplain land, and slopes greater than 25%. However, no more than 15% of the required open space shall be composed of wetlands, surface waters, floodplains, or areas with unaltered slopes greater than 25%. The applicant has the burden of demonstrating that the composition of the proposed open space and its location further the purposes of the open space community development. At its discretion, the Planning Board may allow a higher percentage of the required open space to be composed of no greater than 50% wetlands, surface waters, floodplains, or areas with unaltered slopes greater than 25%.
E. 
Notwithstanding § 145-55 of this chapter (Dimensional standards), the Planning Board may permit the following to occur within the designated open space land:
(1) 
Subject to approval of the Board of Health, as otherwise required by law, the Planning Board may permit the open space land to be used for subsurface waste disposal where the Planning Board finds that such use will not be detrimental to the character, quality or use of the open space land, such use to be recorded in the deeds of the lots affected.
(2) 
Up to 10% of the open space may be set apart and designated as such to allow for the construction of structures and facilities accessory thereto designed for agricultural, forestry, or recreational purposes.

§ 145-57 Administration.

A. 
Relation to Subdivision Control Law. To facilitate timely processing, promote better communication, and avoid misunderstanding, applicants are encouraged to submit a preliminary subdivision plan. This plan should include alternative OSCD designs; a yield plan must be included.
B. 
Submission requirements.
(1) 
Each OSCD application and plan shall be prepared in accordance with the requirements for described in the Chapter 270, Subdivision of Land, of the Code of the Town of Belchertown.
(2) 
Each OSCD application and plan shall provide the following additional information:
(a) 
The location and acreage of areas to be devoted to specific uses.
(b) 
The proposed location of parks, open spaces, and other public and community use.
(c) 
Developments on municipal sewer systems: written approval certifying tie-in to municipal sewage from the Belchertown Department of Public Works.
(d) 
On-site septic development: a sanitary sewage feasibility report certified by a registered professional civil engineer licensed in Massachusetts. The purpose of the report is to evaluate the feasibility of the ground for subsurface disposal of septic tank effluents, based on soil characteristics and test borings, water table, natural drainage patterns and other observations by the engineer.
[1] 
The report shall take into consideration the following factors: location of deep holes, to be shown on an appropriate map; topographic and ground level conditions; natural drainage patterns; flood heights of nearby waterways; underlying soil characteristics, absorption qualities, maximum groundwater elevations and distances to bedrock; and locations and dimensions of abutting off-site sewage disposal systems if within 100 feet of property lines to be shown on an appropriate map.
[2] 
The report shall contain a statement by the civil engineer of why the septic system design and location is the most suitable of considered alternatives for on-site sanitary sewage disposal systems as indicated in Title V, the State Environmental Code. The Belchertown Board of Health has final jurisdiction over all on-site septic systems.
(e) 
The organization the applicant proposes to own and maintain the open space land.
(f) 
Draft copies of all proposed covenants, agreements, and other restrictions that the applicant proposes.
(g) 
Proposed gross density of entire development tract, amount of open space required, and amount of open space retained.
(h) 
A yield plan shall also be provided showing the number of potential lots that could be created and built upon for residential purposes via a conventional residential subdivision.
(i) 
Any and all other information from the definitive subdivision regulations of the Town of Belchertown that the Planning Board may require to assist in determining whether the proposed OSCD meets the objectives and standards as set forth in this article.
C. 
Waivers.
(1) 
The Planning Board may grant a waiver of roadway and dimensional standards as provided for in the Town of Belchertown's Subdivision Regulations.[1]
[1]
Editor's Note: See Ch. 270, Subdivision of Land.
(2) 
The Planning Board may grant waivers from side, front and rear yard setbacks when it is necessary to promote maximum design flexibility for the purposes of this article.
(3) 
The Planning Board may grant waivers from minimum lot size requirements established in § 145-54B(1), provided there is a corresponding increase in the amount of preserved open space over and above the thirty-five-percent threshold established in this bylaw.
(4) 
The Planning Board may grant a waiver to permit a community septic system or community well, provided that the final design complies with Title V regulations and is approved by the Board of Health.
D. 
Design flexibility.
(1) 
At its discretion, the Planning Board may allow a higher percentage of the required open space to be composed of no greater than 50% wetlands, surface waters, floodplains, or areas with unaltered slopes greater than 25%.
(2) 
At its discretion, the Planning Board may allow up to 50% of the total parcel to be preserved as open space, provided it is in keeping with the purposes of this bylaw.
E. 
Review and approval process. After notice and public hearing in accordance with MGL c. 41, § 81T, as amended, the Planning Board may, after due consideration of the reports and recommendations of the Conservation Commission, Board of Health and Town Engineer, and other reviewing offices, grant OSCD subdivision approval, provided that the conditions and standards of this article have been adequately met.
F. 
Fees.
(1) 
The fees are the same as any other subdivision.
(2) 
The applicant shall pay for such outside consultant review as the Planning Board may deem necessary or appropriate, including but not limited to engineering review and legal review, and the public hearing advertisement.

§ 145-58 Amendments; recording of plan; covenant.

Prior to the development or sale of any lot within an OSCD, a covenant or other instrument satisfactory to the Planning Board shall have been executed assuring the open space land or the recreational use of lands so designated in the application.

§ 145-59 Severability.

Determination that any specific portion of this Article XI is invalid shall not render any other part thereof invalid.