ARTICLE 14 - OPEN SPACE PRESERVATION
(added at Annual Town Meeting of May 18, 1998)
To provide for the public interest by permanently preserving open space and natural landscape features, and to promote variety in SINGLE FAMILY residential housing patterns by encouraging development which is designed to accommodate a site’s physical characteristics such as: topography, vegetation, water bodies, wetlands, open spaces, farmlands, meadows, major scenic views, wildlife habitats, and to reduce the amount of infrastructure needed through conventional patterns of development.
14.2 General Requirements
a. A tract of land consisting of not less than five (5) acres, within Zoning Districts Residential A and Farm & Forest serviced by Town Water or Sewer may be developed for the construction of SINGLE FAMILY DWELLINGS under the Open Space Preservation Bylaw.
b. Development under Open Space Preservation may only be authorized by a Special Permit granted by the Planning Board in accordance with M.G.L. Ch. 40A, Planning Board Rules & Regulations governing the Subdivision of Land in Raynham as most recently amended, and Planning Board Rules and Regulations governing the issuance of a Special Permit.
c. The number of BUILDING LOTS in a tract to be developed under the Open Space Preservation Bylaw shall not exceed the number of BUILDING LOTS of said tract permitted under the intensity of use regulation of the Raynham Zoning Bylaws as most recently amended and Planning Board Rules and Regulations as most recently amended (conventional subdivision plan).
14.3 Intensity Requirements:
The Planning Board may grant a reduction of all intensity regulations of the underlying zoning bylaws for all portions of an Open Space Preservation development if the Planning Board finds that such reduction will result in better design, improved protection of natural and scenic resources, and will otherwise comply with this Bylaw, provided that in no instance shall any LOT deviate from the following Minimum Requirements.
MINIMUM DIMENSIONAL REQUIREMENTS
Residential A Farm & Forest
Minimum area 20,000 sq. ft. 40,000 sq. ft.
Minimum upland 10,000 sq. ft. 20,000 sq. ft.
Minimum frontage 100 ft. 100 ft.
Minimum front yard setback 20 ft. 30 ft.
Minimum side & rear setbacks *10 ft. 15 ft.
*Setbacks for side and rear yards shall be guided by the characteristics of the site, proposed structures, the nature of the existing built environment in the area, and principles of good site planning. Zero lot line development may be permitted.
** Frontage on a cul-de-sac may be 50 feet, but must have a lot width of 100 feet, measured 45 feet back from said lot’s front property line. (** added at ATM 5/29/03)
14.4 Development Standards
Prior to issuance of a Special Permit for Open Space Preservation development, the APPLICANT shall submit the information necessary to demonstrate that the following development standards have been met:
a. The natural landscape is preserved in large contiguous areas enhancing the likelihood of continuation of existing ecosystems.
b. Extensive topographic changes necessitating vegetation and tree removal is minimized.
c. Scenic views from public ways are preserved. All efforts shall be made to avoid driveway cuts on existing public ways.
d. Contiguity with preserved open space is provided for a large
proportion of the LOTS having reduced LOT area.
e. There is variation in LOT sizes and BUILDING arrangements.
f. Open space is used to protect valuable natural environments such as stream valleys, outstanding vegetation or scenic views. Development of geographically unsuitable land is avoided.
g. The character of the neighborhood in which the tract lies is enhanced.
h. The development will improve pedestrian and vehicular safety within the site and will not cause unreasonable traffic congestion or unsafe conditions.
i. The development will provide for and maintain convenient and safe emergency vehicle access to all BUILDINGS and STRUCTURES at all times.
j. The site shall be developed in such a way as to preserve slopes in excess of ten (10%) percent.
k. Roads shall be designed to follow the natural terrain of the site.
14.5 Open Space Use and Design Standards
a. The open space may be used for active and passive recreation, conservation, forestry, agriculture, natural buffers, and/or structures necessary for approved uses subject to approval of the Planning Board.
b. Provision shall be made so that at least forty (40%) percent of the tract of land shall remain open space. This shall not include land set-aside for roads and/or parking spaces.
c. Where possible, existing trees and vegetation shall be preserved and integrated into the landscape design plan to ensure visual privacy between STRUCTURES, abutting properties and neighborhoods.
d. No more than thirty (30%) percent of the required open space shall consist of wetlands as defined in M.G.L., Chapter 131.
e. Open space shall be planned as large contiguous areas wherever possible, but may be in more than one parcel provided the size and shape of such parcels are appropriate and accessible for the intended uses as determined by the Planning Board.
f. No more than twenty (20%) percent of the open space shall be covered by man-made IMPERVIOUS SURFACES. Natural looking drainage areas may be included in the percent man-made impervious surfaces.
g. Affordable housing requirements: For every ten (10) lots created under the provisions of this subsection, one (1) lot, located within the development, shall be made in perpetuity via deed estriction at terms affordable to p ersons or families qualifying as low and moderate income as defined by the Department of Housing and ommunity Development. Such lots shall be subject to the approval of the Planning Board. (this section added at 5/21/01 A .T.M. adjourned session on 5/23/01) In lieu of the above estriction the applicant may make a donation to the Raynham Housing Authority, said donation to be used for the development of affordable housing, in the amount of $ 50,000 for ach lot removed from the restriction. (highlighted portion added at ATM 5/20/13) (sec. g. amended at S.T.M. 10/27/14)
4.6 Site Improvements:
Streets and Utilities - All streets, sewers, drainage facilities, utilities, and other improvements shall be designed in compliance with the Rules and Regulations Governing the Subdivision of Land, Raynham, latest edition, unless waived as part of the Definitive Plan Certificate of Action. In general, waivers may be granted when waivers will minimize environmental disruption and maintain rural character. Examples of waivers are minimizing pavement width, rural drainage systems, curvilinear road layouts, and preservation of existing topography and natural features of the site.
14.7 Ownership and Management of Open Space:
A. Ownership Options: At the developer’s request, but subject to approval by the Planning Board, all areas to be protected as open space shall be:
1. Conveyed at no cost to the town, subject to acceptance at Town Meeting for park or open space purposes. * Land conveyed to the town should be open for public use; (* Amended at S.T.M. of 11/22/99)
2. Conveyed at no cost to a non-profit organization, the principal purpose of which is the conservation or preservation of open space and/or any of the purposes and uses to which the open space may be dedicated, with a conservation restriction as specified below, such organization shall be acceptable to the town as a bona fide conservation organization;
3.Conveyed at no cost to a corporation or trust owned or to be owned by the owners of lots or residential units within the development (i.e. “homeowners association”) and placed under a conservation restriction. If such a corporation or trust is utilized as indicated herein, ownership thereof shall pass with conveyance of the lots or residential units. The developer is responsible for the maintenance of the open space and other facilities to be held in common until such time as the homeowners’ association is capable of assuming such responsibility. Thereafter, the members of the association shall share the cost of maintaining the open space. The Planning Board shall require the applicant to provide documentation that the homeowners’ association is an automatic (mandatory) association that has been established prior to the conveyance of any lots within the subdivision; and/or
B. Permanent Restriction: In any case where open space is not conveyed to the town, a permanent conservation restriction or an agricultural preservation restriction shall be recorded to prevent future residential development of said parcel(s). A conservation restriction shall be in accordance with Massachusetts General Law Chapter 184, Section 31-33 as most recently amended. An Agricultural Preservation Restriction shall be in accordance with Massachusetts General Law Chapter 132A, Section 11a-d as most recently amended. Restrictions shall provide for periodic inspection of the open space by the town. Such restriction shall be submitted to the Planning Board prior to approval of the project and recorded at the Registry of Deeds/Land Court prior to the conveyance of any building lot. A management plan may be required by the Planning Board, which describes how existing woods, fields, meadows or other natural areas shall be maintained in accordance with good conservation practices.
C. Maintenance of Open Space. In any case where open space is not conveyed to the town, the town shall be granted an easement over such land sufficient to ensure its perpetual maintenance as conservation or recreation land. Such easement shall provide that in the event that the trust or other owner fails to maintain the open space in reasonable condition, the Town may, after notice to the lot owners and public hearing, enter upon such land to maintain it in order to prevent or abate a nuisance. The cost of such maintenance by the town shall be assessed against the properties within the development and/or to the owner of the open space. The town may file a lien against the lot or lots to ensure payment of such maintenance expenses.
D. Monumentation: Where the boundaries of the open space are not readily observable in the field, the Planning Board may require placement of surveyed bounds sufficient to identify the location of the open space.
14.8 Application Process:
The application process for Open Space Preservation is comprised of two steps, as outlined below.
A. Concept Plan/Preliminary Plan:
The plan must be prepared and stamped by a professional landscape architect in addition to a civil engineer or land surveyor, all registered in Massachusetts, and shall meet all the requirements of a preliminary plan as specified in the Raynham Subdivision Rules and Regulations. It shall also contain the following information:
1. Location of the proposed roads, BUILDING LOTS, DWELLINGS, and open space layout and uses;
2. Existing landscape features such as steep topography, wetlands, springs, lakes and ponds, streams, rock outcrops, boulder fields, stone walls, cliffs, forest glades, drumlins, high points, hill tops and ridges. Existing open areas such as farm fields, meadows, and major long views.
B. Also required is a preliminary plan of a conventional subdivision to illustrate the number of LOTS, which could be developed. The burden of proof shall be upon the APPLICANT in determining the allowable number of BUILDING LOTS. The Planning Board reserves the right to challenge the status of any LOT.
C. If the concept/preliminary plan is approved for an Open Space Preservation development, the APPLICANT shall submit a Special Permit application in conformance with the Planning Board Rules and Regulations governing the issuance of a Special Permit. The APPLICANT shall submit a Definitive Plan in conformance with the latest edition of the Rules and Regulations Governing the Subdivision of Land, Raynham, MA.
D. In exercising its jurisdiction under this Section, the Planning Board shall conform to all requirements and procedures applicable to a SPECIAL PERMIT GRANTING AUTHORITY when deciding requests for Special Permits under Massachusetts General Laws, Chapter 40A, as amended, including the requirements therein for public notice and hearings.
E. Public hearings for the Special Permit and Definitive Plan will be held concurrently when time requirements permit. In such an event, the hearing notice and a statement at the public hearing shall clearly identify both purposes and shall comply with the applicable requirements of General Laws, Chapter 40A and Chapter 41, as amended. The Planning Board shall act separately on the special permit application and the Definitive Plan. The denial of the special permit shall preclude the approval of the Definitive Plan of an open space preservation development, but the grant of a special permit does not mean the approval of the Definitive Plan. Each action may include conditions and modifications.
Concurrent hearing and action on the open space preservation development Special Permit and the Definitive Subdivision Plan simplify the procedure and reduce costs. Such concurrent proceedings shall be utilized whenever practicable.
14.9 Conditions of Approval:
A. The Planning Board may grant a Special Permit under this Section only if it finds that the Open Space Preservation development proposal: (a) Will be in harmony with the general purpose and intent of this Bylaw; (b) Meets all General Requirements, Development Standards, and Design Standards of this Bylaw; (c) Will not have a detrimental impact on the immediate neighborhood or abutting properties; (d) Is designed with due consideration for health and safety; and (e) Is superior to a conventional plan in preserving open space, minimizing environmental disruption and allowing for more efficient provision of services.
B. The Planning Board shall state the ownership and management of open space in its decision and said open space ownership shall be recorded in the Registry of Deeds.
C. No lot shown on a plan for which a permit is granted under this Section may be further subdivided and this shall be so noted on the plan.
D. The Special Permit is granted for a period of two years and shall lapse if substantial use or construction has not commenced by such date, except for good cause shown. And provided further that such construction once begun shall be actively and continuously pursued to completion within a reasonable time.
E. The Planning Board may impose further restrictions on the tract, or parts thereof, as a condition of granting the Special Permit, as follows:
1. Measures to ensure the maintenance of scenic vistas.
2. Specific approval of the uses allowed in designated open spaces and recreational STRUCTURES such as: tennis courts, swimming pools, accessory clubhouses, or any other STRUCTURES shall be submitted to the Planning Board for site plan approval.
3. Designation of no-cut or limited clearing areas on LOTS.
4. Granting of an easement providing and defining rights of public access.
5. Maintain or create a buffer of natural vegetation of at least twenty-five (25) feet in width adjacent to wetlands and at least forty (40) feet adjacent to surface waters. Additionally, a buffer area at least one hundred (100) feet in width shall be created or maintained free of residential STRUCTURES adjacent to surface waters.
6. A buffer strip of fifty (50) feet in width around the perimeter of the locus abutting an existing neighborhood.
The Planning Board may impose any additional conditions and/or safeguards which further the purpose of this Bylaw and which the Planning Board deems necessary to meet the Planning Board Rules and Regulations.