Town of Belchertown, MA
Hampshire County
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Table of Contents
Table of Contents
[Added 5-8-2000 ATM by Art. 18; amended 5-11-2009 ATM by Art. 13; 12-1-2014 STM by Art. 5]

§ 145-72 Purpose.

The Business Neighborhood Center District is intended to result in a vibrant diverse neighborhood that is integrated with and central to the whole community. Its design is to provide aesthetic consistency with the surrounding neighborhoods while contributing to the community's economic vitality. It contains elements such as open space buffers, and lot dimensions that vary from those permitted in other districts as noted in Article V of this chapter. It is to include current development technologies in the areas of energy efficiency, stormwater management, transportation and building design and construction.
A. 
The purposes of the Business Neighborhood Center District are:
(1) 
To provide flexibility for developers seeking to provide a community environment of mixed uses that includes businesses, certain residential opportunities and civic amenities;
(2) 
To increase options for a vital mix of land uses;
(3) 
To provide expeditious construction permitting;
(4) 
To allow the relatively intensive use of land in an alternative pattern of development while maintaining existing character and by which the following benefits and objectives are likely to be attained, as described in Subsection B.
B. 
Benefits and objectives of the Business Neighborhood Center District:
(1) 
Improved business, employment and residential opportunities in Belchertown.
(2) 
Economical and efficient street, utility and public facility installation, construction and maintenance through creative design.
(3) 
Provision of open and civic spaces.
(4) 
Efficient use of land in harmony with its natural features.
(5) 
A cohesive sense of community character achieved through mixed uses and design.
(6) 
Continuation of Belchertown's leadership in implementing improved energy and infrastructure technologies.

§ 145-73 Development method.

A. 
Site plan approval by the Planning Board is required for each development in the Business Neighborhood Center.
B. 
The parts of a development allowed under this article that are to become part of the Town's infrastructure, such as roads, stormwater management, utilities, parking and civic amenities, may be subject to Chapter 270, Subdivision of Land, of the Code of the Town of Belchertown and other municipal laws and regulations, to be determined by the respective permitting authorities during reviews.

§ 145-74 Administration.

A. 
To facilitate timely processing, promote better communication and avoid misunderstanding, applicants are encouraged to submit conceptual materials for informal review by the Planning Board prior to formal application for site plan approval.
B. 
Site plan approval submission requirements. Each Business Neighborhood Center site plan approval application and plan shall provide the following information:
(1) 
The location and specific boundaries of the project parcel or parcels.
(2) 
Signatures of authorized representatives of each entity with ownership interest and each applicant or applicants' agent involved in the project.
(3) 
Written approval from the appropriate governing body certifying the potential to connect to a public sewage system and a public water supply.
(4) 
Copies of all proposed covenants, easements, agreements and other restrictions the applicant proposes, in draft guideline form, not in final legal form.
(5) 
Demonstration that the proposed development is consistent with this article.
(6) 
Any and all other information the Planning Board may require to assist in determining whether the project site plan meets the objectives and standards as set forth in this article.
C. 
Review and approval process.
(1) 
The review, notice and public hearing process for site plan approval in the Business Neighborhood Center District shall be conducted in the same manner as a special permit. After notice and public hearing in accordance with MGL c. 40A, § 9, as amended, the Planning Board shall, after due consideration of the reports and recommendations of the Conservation Commission, Board of Health, Board of Selectmen, Director of Public Works, Town Engineer, and any other reviewing authority, approve a site plan, provided that the conditions and standards of this article have been adequately met. The Planning Board may impose reasonable conditions on its approval to ensure compliance with the conditions and standards of this article.
(2) 
Site plan approval granted under this article shall lapse within 24 months if construction has not begun or is not continuing to proceed, except for a good cause shown with an extension approved by the Planning Board. An extension must be applied for at least 90 days prior to the expiration of the site plan approval.
(3) 
Strict compliance with any zoning bylaw governing any individual aspect of a site plan under this article, other than the residential percentage cap, may be waived by the Planning Board where such action is not detrimental to the public good. In such cases, any waiver on a site plan with approval from the Planning Board supersedes the individual bylaw governing the waiver. If the applicant requests a waiver, it is incumbent upon the applicant to demonstrate how the proposed waiver is not detrimental to the public good. The Planning Board reserves the right to request a waiver when the Board deems it appropriate, even if the applicant does not request a waiver.
D. 
Fees.
(1) 
Same as the current site plan filing fee.
(2) 
The applicant shall pay all costs incurred by the Planning Board and for all consultants utilized by the Planning Board in considering the application for site plan approval, including but not limited to engineering, design and legal services. The Planning Board may require payment of such costs pursuant to MGL c.44, § 53G. The failure or refusal of an applicant to make such payments shall constitute grounds for denial of the application.

§ 145-75 Dimensional standards.

Lots and buildings in a Business Neighborhood Center shall meet dimensional standards that are appropriate to establish the desired form, mass, public space, and service needs of the sites, notwithstanding the requirements of Article V of this chapter. Recommended standards to establish a design basis are the following:
A. 
Minimum lot size: 20,000 square feet.
B. 
Minimum frontage: 100 feet.
C. 
Maximum lot coverage: 80%.
D. 
Minimum front setback*: 10 feet.
E. 
Minimum rear setback*: 20 feet.
F. 
Minimum side setback* : 15 feet.
G. 
Minimum lot width: 100 feet.
H. 
Maximum building height: 60 feet or three stories, with story defined in § 145-2.
Individual dimensional standards may be waived by the Planning Board upon the Planning Board's determination that lesser standards are consistent with the intent of this Business Neighborhood Center bylaw.
* Setbacks may be as low as zero feet if the Planning Board deems such to be appropriate.

§ 145-76 Development design.

A. 
Permitted uses and standards.
(1) 
Buildings designed for business use, for residential use, for civic or non-profit use, or for mixed use may be constructed in a Business Neighborhood Center.
(2) 
Multiple buildings on one parcel are permissible if they are deemed consistent with the intent of this article.
B. 
Overall district design requirements.
(1) 
Pedestrian accommodations shall take precedence over vehicular accommodations.
(2) 
Parking should be shared as much as possible to minimize curb cuts.
(3) 
Solar canopies should be considered for parking lots.
(4) 
Public transit accommodations, such as bus stops, must be integrated.
(5) 
Lighting must provide a safe pedestrian environment and minimize light trespass. Lights must be aimed downward and not have exposed light sources.
(6) 
Landscaping must use only plants native to this region. All reasonable attempts must be made to preserve healthy specimen trees.
C. 
Building design requirements.
(1) 
Building design must be consistent with the Planning Board's Commercial Development Design Guidelines.
(2) 
Buildings should meet or exceed LEED or comparable "green" building standards for energy efficiency to the greatest extent possible and economically feasible.
(3) 
Physical maintenance of uses and buildings must be assured through restricted covenants acceptable to the Planning Board.
D. 
Residential requirements. (See Article II for definitions of dwelling units.) If any dwelling units are built, they must meet the following standards:
(1) 
Residential development not affiliated with or ancillary to a continuing care retirement community, an assisted living, a memory care facility or live/work units is limited to 30% of a Business Neighborhood Center district's gross floor area as shown on a master plan for build out of the zone as approved by the Belchertown Economic Development and Industrial Corporation. This applies to the entire district, not the individual parcels.
(2) 
Ten percent of all dwelling units must be permanently affordable and eligible to be listed on the Belchertown subsidized housing inventory ("SHI") maintained by the Massachusetts Department of Housing and Community Development, unless waived by the Planning Board. The applicant shall provide all documentation and cooperation reasonably necessary for the Town to add such units to the SHI.
(3) 
No detached single-unit dwelling is permitted.
(4) 
Dwelling units in a variety of types, such as townhouses and apartments are permissible.
(5) 
Upper-story apartments over businesses are encouraged.
(6) 
Live/work units, in which the residents also work in the units, such as studios, are encouraged and shall not count toward the 30% standard in § 145-76D(1).

§ 145-77 Use standards.

Schedule of uses permitted by right within the Business Neighborhood Center District.
A. 
Retail stores, boutiques.
B. 
Convenience stores.
C. 
Service businesses.
D. 
Financial, medical and other professional offices.
E. 
For-profit, non-profit or ancillary child care facilities.
F. 
Clinics and health care facilities.
G. 
Hospital.
H. 
Nursing home, elderly day care.
I. 
Continuing care retirement community.
J. 
Assisted living.
K. 
Memory care.
L. 
Residential units ancillary to Subsections G through K.
M. 
Multiple-unit dwelling.
N. 
Live/work units.
O. 
Inns and small lodging houses.
P. 
Motels.
Q. 
Hotels and conference centers.
R. 
Restaurants.
S. 
Brew pubs, micro-brewery or smaller brewery.
T. 
Entertainment venues, bars, night clubs.
U. 
Theatre, concert hall, cinema, except outdoor cinema.
V. 
Indoor sport, fitness and recreation facilities.
W. 
Meeting hall, place of assembly, for-profit club.
X. 
Government offices.
Y. 
Municipal uses.
Z. 
Library.
AA. 
Educational uses.
BB. 
Art or craft center.
CC. 
Museums, galleries, etc.
DD. 
Parks and recreation facilities.
EE. 
Public parking area or garage.
FF. 
Private club, not for profit.
GG. 
Religious uses.
HH. 
Funeral establishment.
II. 
Veterinary office/hospital (small animal).
JJ. 
Laboratory, research facility.
KK. 
Scientific research, development and manufacturing.
LL. 
Light manufacturing, fabrication and assembly.
MM. 
Commercial food processing.
NN. 
Wholesale business - roofed.

§ 145-78 Other conditions.

A. 
Subdivision of land. If within the Business Neighborhood Center it is desired to create frontage for separate lots and infrastructure to be conveyed to the Town, a separate subdivision application to the Planning Board must be made.
B. 
All individual lots in a Business Neighborhood Center must front on ways that are either public ways or approved subdivision ways.
C. 
Signs.
(1) 
Recognizing that signage needs are variable, sign size may vary by business or use in the district. The maximum allowed size for an individual sign in a Business Neighborhood Center is 80 square feet.
(2) 
Within a Business Neighborhood Center, intersection directional signs may be erected with arrows indicating the businesses reached via the cross street, with each business sign not exceeding six inches high by 36 inches long, including the arrow.
(3) 
Except as provided in § 145-78C(1) and (2), signs shall conform with Article VI, § 145-22, Signs, of this chapter.
D. 
Parking.
(1) 
Parking areas shared by uses are strongly encouraged. Such common parking areas may become municipal responsibilities. If a common parking area is to become the responsibility of the Town, it is to be accepted in the same manner as other infrastructure conveyances. Publicly owned parking may not be restricted to use or establishment. Privately held common parking may be restricted to designated users.
(2) 
On-street parking may be allowed in a Business Neighborhood Center with approval from the Police Department, the Fire Department, and the Board of Selectmen. When on-street parking is allowed, the number of off-street spaces required per parcel may be reduced. The amount of this reduction in off-street parking spaces is equal to the number of on-street spaces abutting the parcel's frontage. A Business Neighborhood Center is exempt from Article VI, § 145 23D(3) regarding vehicles backing onto a public way. Where one-way streets are permitted, angle on-street parking is permitted. All parking must meet ADA requirements.
(3) 
Parking areas should include solar canopies and electric car charging stations when practicable.

§ 145-79 Open space land.

A. 
Open space in a Business Neighborhood Center:
(1) 
Parcels on the district's external boundary must have a buffer of at least 30 feet wide on such external zone boundary.
(2) 
Open space buffers may be naturally forested. Invasive species shall not be permitted to remain.
(3) 
Buffers may be landscaped with native shrubs, trees and perennial plants.
B. 
A developer in a Business Neighborhood Center may be required to incorporate additional recreational or open space beyond the required buffer as an amenity.
C. 
The location, size and shape of open space shall be subject to the approval of the Planning Board after recommendations have been received from the Conservation Commission or the Recreation Department.
D. 
The Planning Board may permit the following within the designated open space land:
(1) 
Drainage may be allowed in the open space only if approved by the Conservation Commission, Department of Public Works and Planning Board. Percolation of stormwater is strongly encouraged to purify the water and to recharge any aquifer.
(2) 
Recreational facilities.
E. 
No more than 50% of the open space land, excluding the required thirty-foot buffer, shall constitute wetland. The term "wetland" shall be limited to the definition of wetland as specified under MGL c. 131, § 40, the Wetlands Protection Act, as amended. The Belchertown Conservation Commission shall determine where the wetlands, if any, are located on the site.

§ 145-80 Amendments; recording of plan; covenant.

A. 
Minor amendments to site plan approval may be granted by the Planning Board upon application and for good cause shown but without necessity of a public hearing; provided, however, that any of the following shall be considered a major amendment and shall be acted upon under the procedures applicable to the initial site plan approval of:
(1) 
Any change in the amount of shared parking and/or the creation of infrastructure intended to be assumed by the Town;
(2) 
Any alteration of building size of more than 400 square feet;
(3) 
Any change in the general layout of the ways as provided in the approved site plan.

§ 145-81 Severability.

A determination that any specific portion of this Article XIV is invalid shall not render any other part thereof invalid.