As we wind down the days of summer, let's take it easy and look at some of the interesting zoning news that's been reported this summer in just one of the several counties where we practice, Plymouth County.
Last week, Wicked Local/Old Colony Memorial (Plymouth Edition - 8/21/12) ran an article about the need to update the Town of Plymouth's Zoning Bylaw. As reported in the article, there are currently 26 amendments being considered by the Planning Board, but several individuals interviewed indicated that there is a need for a major overhaul of the entire Zoning Bylaw so that it is more streamlined. Incidentally, as a practitioner with many years of experience dealing with the Plymouth Zoning Bylaw and several other communities' zoning codes, I generally agree with that sentiment. Because the current version is quite meaty and has many inter-dependent sections, it continually requires lengthy, in-depth reviews and analyses more frequently than with other less convoluted zoning bylaws. It will be interesting to see whether Plymouth ultimately decides to begin the process of a major rewrite of its zoning bylaws in light of the associated costs of doing so.
As reported in the June 27, 2012, Norwell Planning Board meeting minutes, Norwell is also considering modifying sections of its zoning bylaw in the coming fiscal year. Priorities include a second look at the town center overlay district and amending the site plan review and common driveway provisions of the bylaw. The Planning Board will also consider some changes to the subdivision rules and regulations, including roadway widths, sidewalks and lighting efficiency.
Earlier in August, Wicked Local also reported that a two-year commercial and industrial land use study was being presented to the Plymouth Board of Selectmen and Planning Board. The 58-page report (click on "Final Report" here), compiled by the Industrial/Commercial/Office Land Study Committee, focuses on the potential for "light industrial" uses for the remaining, undeveloped commercial/light industrial zoned land in Plymouth (about 1,000 acres, though much of it is located in the Pinehills and airport areas and thus not likely to be developed anyway). The comprehensive report includes suggestions-such as changes to existing infrastructure, permitting processes and possible rezoning-that would help maximize development potential of the balance of commercial/light industrial land that is likely to be used.
Cape Wind is not the only wind turbine project in the news these days. As reported online in the Patriot Ledger (8/18/12), there are several wind turbine projects happening on the South Shore, including in a few Plymouth County communities. Like most development projects, there are proponents and opponents of these turbines. It is plausible that as more individuals and businesses seek to install wind turbines or utilize other types of renewable energy-and as long as zoning bylaws fail to adequately address all aspects of these kinds of projects-there will be much litigation involving these kinds of projects.
We will continue to follow this and other zoning news across Middlesex, Barnstable, Plymouth and other counties as we head into autumn. Stay tuned!
Written by Kristen M. Ploetz, Esq., of Green Lodestar Communications & Consulting, LLC, on behalf of Jeffrey T. Angley, P.C. Edited by Jeffrey T. Angley, Esq.
Copyright (c) 2011-2012 by Jeffrey T. Angley, P.C. All rights reserved.
Disclaimer: The information contained in this post is general in nature and for educational purposes only. No personal legal advice is being provided. If you have an actual legal issue that needs to be addressed, you should seek the advice of competent legal counsel. This post does not create an attorney-client relationship between the reader and Jeffrey T. Angley, P.C., Phillips & Angley or their attorneys.