Zoning Bylaw Reorganization Project
The Planning Board has long recognized that the Zoning Bylaw was in need of "tidying up". Like other documents of its kind, it has been added to and amended over the decades, often by different authors. Sometimes they have complicated the flow of the document or inadvertently introduced inconsistencies. Also excessive digital conversions have caused problems with document production. Board members also felt that some of the wording may be outdated and would benefit from a review.
Funding for consultants to steer the project was approved at the 2019 Annual Town Meeting. Their appointment was on hold during the early stages of the pandemic, but staff worked to type a clean, unformatted document and to provide extensive markups of known points for attention.
A steering group, which included a Zoning Board of Appeals representative, then issued an RFP and appointed the Barrett Planning Group and Robert Mitchell as consultants. After reviewing the current Bylaw and interviewing a range of frequent users, the consultants produced a Diagnostic analysis. They summarized the identified problems and potential improvement strategies in a set of PowerPoint slides, presented in November, 2022. The Planning Board offered some comments and supported proceeding with most of the recommendations.
In January, 2023 the consultants produced a "Crosswalk" document that proposes a new section structure and indicates where portions of the existing Bylaw text would be relocated, as well as a few new sections. The Planning Board received this favorably.
Future work will include discussion of potential changes to specific provisions at various levels of significance. These could range from how a major type of use or district is classified and handled, to standardizing definitions, spelling or formatting. Any changes of substance, however small, will be put forward for Town Meeting approval, with public hearings in advance.
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