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Posted on: April 5, 2018

Planning Board Zoning Articles for Town Meeting: Additional Articles

Planning Board Zoning Articles For 2018 Town Meeting

Prepared by the Planning Board

In anticipation of the 2018 Town Meeting the Planning Board proposed ten potential Zoning Articles.  During the duly noticed public hearing process changes were made to the original text of the articles submitted, nine of which were then unanimously supported by the Planning Board.  The Article on Accessory Dwelling Units was advanced as revised by the Planning Board with a vote of 4-1.  The Articles range in substance from what we consider to be fairly straightforward “clean up” articles, to a series of articles precipitated by the legalization of Marijuana Establishments (sometimes referred to as recreational marijuana), and an article intended to provide a permitting mechanism for Accessory Dwelling Units within a principal structure.  

A summary of six of the Zoning Articles that are not related to recreational marijuana or Accessory Dwelling Units follows.  If you have any questions about any of the articles you are invited to call the office of the Planning Board at (781) 741-1419 and speak to the Director of Community Planning during office hours.  

Zoning Article 21:  Section VI – Definitions
The intent of this article is to simply add the definition of Lot Width as adopted by the 2017 Town Meeting as part of the Lot Shape regulations (IV-C.2.b) to the Definitions section of the By-Law for easy reference.  

Zoning Article 22:  Section IV-D Flexible Residential Development
The intent of this article is to clarify that the minimum setback distance between structures on the same lot in a Flexible Residential Development refers to principal structures (residential buildings) and not accessory structures (swimming pools, sheds, etc.).  

The Flexible Residential Development by-law encourages clustered development and it is reasonable to require a minimum setback distance between detached town homes on the same lot.  However, the by-law allows for smaller lot sizes to enable the preservation of large buffer areas at the perimeter of the lots, so application of such a large setback distance to all structures on a single lot unintentionally restricts the ability of homeowners to have otherwise permitted accessory structures on their lots.  In addition, the Zoning By-Law does not require a setback between homes and accessory structures in any single-family residential district.  This amendment to the Flexible Residential Development bylaw will allow all homes to be treated equally under the By-Law.

Zoning Article 23:  Floodplain Protection Overlay District
The intent of this Article is to amend the text in the By-Law to correctly reference the Flood Insurance Rate Map (FIRM) panels and their effective dates, and to update the Zoning Part B map, which is the map that shows the flood zones.  The map changes include revisions to the legend to mirror the changes proposed for the text and to correct a mapping error where portions of a few parcels were incorrectly identified as Zone VE instead of AE.  

Zoning Article 24:  Use Table and Parking
The intent of this Article is to clarify provisions in the By-Law by making three changes as follows:  (1) delete the content in Section 4.18 which dates back to when the Board of Appeals regulated parking with a Special Permit A2.  In 2006 the By-law was changed to regulate parking with a Special Permit A3 instead and this section was not updated at that time; (2) to expressly provide that the Planning Board may grant waivers to the parking Design Standards consistent with current practice; and, (3) to incorporate the intent of Section 4.18 into the parking section as the language is being removed from the use table.  

Zoning Article 25:  Common Driveways
The intent of this Article is to propose two changes to the existing common driveway regulations.  First, the required width of the cape cod berm (ccb) is proposed to be reduced to 12” from 18” to reduce the extent of impervious surface associated with a common driveway and because as a practical matter the new paving machines don’t have an 18” attachment anymore, they all create a 12” ccb.  The machines are changing in response to the industry trend towards narrower cape cod berms and less pavement.  A 12” ccb works just as efficiently as an 18” ccb so if the driving surface has sufficient width, the 12” ccb is appropriate.  Second, the proposed amendment clarifies that all easements and legal documents associated with the common driveway must be recorded at the Registry of Deeds prior to start of construction of the common driveway or the structures that to which it provides access.  

Zoning Article 32:  Section V-H Registered Marijuana Dispensaries
Registered Marijuana Dispensaries (“RMDs”) are businesses that sell medical marijuana.  The Town is required by state law to allow medical marijuana facilities and the 2014 Town Meeting previously adopted Section V-H of the Zoning By-Law to govern RMDs. This Article does not involve and in no way relates to recreational-use marijuana. The intent of this Article is to revise the existing language in Section V-H to be consistent with current state law governing that use.  This Article amended the existing language for accuracy but does not change any of the substantive regulations in place regarding Registered Marijuana Dispensaries, or “medical marijuana” in Hingham.  

The regulation of marijuana and the laws governing both medical marijuana and the recreational marijuana have been changing rapidly in recent years.  Recent changes formally codified the act governing medical marijuana as MGL Chapter 94H and updated certain definitions. In addition, Chapter 351 of the Acts of 2016 included an amendment to the Zoning Act which states that the “growing, cultivation, distribution or dispensation of marijuana” does not qualify for the agricultural exemption under the zoning act.  Therefore, the proposed amendment also includes the deletion of provisions related to agricultural uses from Section V-H.  

Planning Board: Proposed By-Law Amendments
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