Monday, August 10, 2009

It's in the books, maybe

This is from the city's Code of Ordinances. Seems like it applies to lots of stuff, including CVS expansions, turbines ... landfills (don't hold your breath).


XV-B Purposes.

To implement goals, strategies, and actions recommended in the 2001 Master Plan for Land Use, Housing, Natural and Cultural Resources, and Transportation and Circulation, and to otherwise protect and enhance residents' quality of life, these regulations address:

a. Community character: To protect the city's distinct community character and historic and scenic qualities. To revitalize targeted areas for reinvestment and new economic development as well as protect existing investments and property values of the city. To provide for smooth transition between industrial, commercial, and residential areas, to preserve the character of individual city neighborhoods, and to reinforce natural topography by controlling features of development.

b. Traffic, parking, and public access: To promote roadway traffic safety and traffic calming, and to protect the capability of state and local roads to conduct vehicular, bicycle, and pedestrian traffic smoothly, safely, and efficiently. To minimize or prevent adverse impacts to neighborhood character from excessive traffic or on-street parking. To encourage alternatives to single-occupant vehicle travel. To encourage pedestrian access to scenic, historic, recreational, and natural areas.

c. Health: To minimize or prevent adverse impacts in air quality, light and glare, and noise. (my emphasis)

d. Public services and utilities: To minimize or prevent adverse impacts to existing public services and facilities, including sewers, storm drains, solid waste disposal systems, parks, schools, streets, and services. To promote energy conservation when feasible.

e. Land use planning: To ensure that proposed uses are reasonably compatible with surrounding uses and are consistent with city zoning and master plan goals. To discourage unlimited commercial "strip development" and curb cuts along highways, to provide for commercial development that is sensitive to Newburyport's distinct community character and diverse but consistent architectural framework, and to provide for industrial growth in nodes and clusters.

f. Open space and environmental protection: To preserve open space, public access, and scenic views to the Merrimack River, and for the protection of natural features and other environmentally sensitive areas. To prevent against erosion and adverse drainage impacts. To minimize the loss of wildlife habitat and other vegetation which have substantial aesthetic, educational, ecological, and/or economic value.

(Ord. of 10-28-02(3))

XV-C Applicability.

Major and minor projects: site plan review shall be required for any structure intended for residential use which includes five (5) or more residential units on one property and for any and all other new nonresidential uses or structure(s) including, but not limited to, industrial/infrastructure, marine, business or institutional/government/medical use(s).

The following criteria shall be used to determine whether the proposed project is reviewed as a major or minor project.

a. Major projects: Within a two-year period after the date of the most recent application for a building permit for any portion of the property, any project which consists of changing the outside appearance of a building and/or includes one or more of the following is considered a major project subject to site plan approval from the planning board: (my emphasis)

1. Construction of one thousand (1,000) or more square feet of gross floor area;
2. Exterior remodeling or renovation of an existing structure that exceeds twenty-five (25) percent of the existing gross floor area;
3. Construction of a drive-through facility;
4. Construction of ten (10) or more new or additional parking or loading spaces;

b. Minor projects: Any project not included within the definition of a major project which involves one or both of the following is considered a minor project subject to site plan review by the planning board.

1. Alterations, expansions, additions, or renovations that are less than five thousand (5,000) square feet gross floor area on any properties located within the "I-1" or "I-1B" industrial zoning districts that do not abut a residential zoning district.
2. Construction of less than ten (10) off-street parking or loading spaces.

(Ord. of 10-28-02(3))

I don't think site plan review is a weapon but it could give activists another venue for protest. Not that I'm advocating protest.


Tom Salemi said...

Interesting. I think it'd be a gross misuse of government power to require a site plan review when tenants in a building change (unless the change requires a significant change in use.) So I don't think this applies to White Hen.

As for the turbine, I gotta think it went through a site plan review. But I can't say for sure.

Bubba said...

Good going Sancho !!

Dick Monahan said...

The review would not be for changing tenants. The review would be for rebuilding the building. I'll bet CVS is going to do major construction. I was on the Town Planning Board when I lived in NH; we would have enforced that.

Gillian Swart said...

Dick - exactly. Thanks!

Bubba said...

Are they rebuilding something ? It looks like a simple interior remodel to me.

Tom Salemi said...

Hmm, I was on the Planning Board in Mass, and I'm not certain we would have.

The site isn't changing. The exterior of the building isn't changing. The use isn't changing. The parking lot isn't changing. The traffic flow isn't changing.

Some walls are simply coming down, and they'll seal up two doors.

You might be able to make the case that the number of units is changing, but I don't see that signaling a site plan review.

And, if I'm reading these correctly, the changes have to come within two years of the most recent application of a building permit, which I assume means two years from the time that some serious work is done.

I don't think CVS will be rebuilding the building. IN fact, its new pharmacy already is in place.

Just look at the bylaws, A-F doesn't apply. Furthermore, I don't think it meets the applicability threshold, unless I'm reading it incorrectly.

Good question though, did this ever go to the planning departmen/planning board for a determination?

Gillian Swart said...

I think this applies to new or new-ish structures, actually, so they would have in effect be mostly re-building. It was my understanding that there will be a drive-through pharmacy and that the bank ATM will be "relocated."

Is the door to the ATM one of those that will be sealed? They aren't going to change to outside to match the one in Salisbury? All of the super CVS stores look like the one in Salisbury. Of course, that's a new construction.

This all goes back to being a good neighbor. I'm not talking about CVS, either.

And Bubba, I think it should be "Sancha," seeing as how I'm a female ...

Bubba said...

Your good neighbor policy would result it little being built or remodelled - hardly workable.

Given that I was making a literary reference, Sancho was more appropriate - besides, Bubba took French.

Tom Salemi said...

A drive thru, huh? Well that would change things in my mind. Someone should sign off on the configuration, que plan and all that.