Hearing on zoning regulation changes tonight

The Chester Select Board will be holding a public hearing at 7 tonight, Wednesday, April 17, on proposed changes to the Unified Development Bylaws, which govern zoning, subdivision and flood damage prevention regulations.  The hearing will take place during its regular session, at Town Hall, 556 Elm St.

This may be the last time that residents have a chance to give their input on the changes, since state law requires a Select Board to hold at least one hearing on the changes.

On Monday Aug. 20, 2012 about 30 Chester residents turned out at Town Hall to hear about new zoning regulations, to ask questions of the Planning Commission that authored them and to make suggestions for additions and changes to the regulations.

The Unified Development Bylaws were revised and combined with the help the Southern Windsor Regional Planning Commission. Click here for a story about the bylaws and here for a story about the Planning Commission’s public hearing.

Since August, the Planning Commission has considered the many questions and suggestions made during that hearing. Below is a digest of the changes they made. Click here to see the latest version of the Unified Development Bylaws.

Zoning Districts – permitted and conditional uses

  1. In all districts, forestry was added to agriculture as a permitted use.
  2. Wherever the term industry occurred with “home business” it has been removed.
  3. In Residential-Commercial, Commercial-Industrial, R40 and R3 districts, “Animal Hospital” has been added as a conditional use. “Animal Kennel” has been added as a conditional use in Conservation-Residential, R40 and R3.
  4. In Conservation-Residential, 40 and R3 “Nursery” has been added while in R3 and R40 “Professional Office” and “Recreation” will be conditional uses.
  5. And in the Forest district, “Extraction Operations” has been added.

General Standards 

  1. Make “an accessory dwelling” into “a single accessory dwelling.” This refers to a new rule that allows homeowners to have a second dwelling unit of no more than 30 percent the square footage of the primary dwelling.
  2. Delete all mention of industry as it relates to “Home Business.”

Performance Standards

  1. Small Renewable Energy installations for the use of the household are permitted, but unlike other permitted uses, these will be reviewed not by the zoning administrator but by the DRB.
  2. Tighten height limit for renewable energy projects from no more than 30 to 100 feet to no more than 30 feet above the building height limit of 30 feet.
  3. Delete mention of visibility in siting and add that the DRB “may use” Public Service Commission (sic) publication Siting a Wind Turbine on Your Property.
  4. Non-conforming signs “should be referred to 3.19” changed to “are subject to 3.19” 3.19 is the section that deals with how to handle things that don’t adhere to the rules.

Development Review Procedures

  1. Under Special Criteria, change “should consider” to “shall consider” the four special criteria.
  2. Under Subdivision – Plat Review, change the approved plat “may” be filed to “shall” be filed with the Town Clerk. And that the time to file is increased from 90 to 180 days.
  3. Deleting the rule mandating expiration of a subdivision if no development occurs after two years.

Administration and Enforcement

  1. Change “no construction may take place” to “no construction shall take place” until waste water and potable water supply permits have been issued.
  2. Under appeals “adjourned” meeting is changed to “recessed” because adjourning a meeting often triggers the final decision process.
  3. Waivers of lot dimensions expand from three districts to “any” district.


  1. Definitions of Animal Hospital and Animal Kennel are added.
  2. “Functionally Dependent Use” and “Functionally Dependent Facility” are deleted.
  3. A definition for “Nursery” is added.
  4. A reference to silviculture is added – “see forestry”
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