To the editor: Clearing up confusion over Chester UDBs

Editor’s note: Carla Westine is chair of Chester’s Development Review Board but is commenting here as a private citizen, not on behalf of the DRB.

There seems to be some confusion related to Home Business, Home Occupation and Building and Construction Trades and how all these terms apply to the proposed changes to the UDBs now being considered by the Chester Select Board.

Home Business is defined by the UDBs as “Any small business carried on by family members in a minor portion of the dwelling or in an accessory building, with no more than four on-premise employees who are not part of the family in accordance with section 3.12 of these Bylaws.” Currently, Home Business is a conditional use in all districts except Forestry (F) District, and requires DRB (Development Review Board) review. There is no change being proposed in the revised UDBs now being considered by the Select Board.

Home Occupation is defined by the UDBs as “Any use conducted entirely within a dwelling or accessory building and carried on by the occupants thereof, which use is clearly incidental and secondary to the use of the dwelling for dwelling purposes, does not change the character thereof, and does not have an undue adverse effect upon the character of the residential area in which the dwelling is located.” It is further defined in Section 3.11., Home Occupation, and is currently a permitted use in all districts except the Forestry (F) District. A permitted use means you only need to stop in and see the zoning administrator to receive your permit, with no DRB review. There is no change being proposed in the revised UDBs now being considered by the Select Board. Home Occupation covers the mom and pops, or the businessperson who works out of his/her home.

Building and Construction Trades is defined by the UDBs: “Includes, but not limited to, plumbing, electrical, carpentry, painting, masonry, roofing and foundations.” Building and Construction Trades although defined, is currently not allowed in any district in Chester. This means that if you are operating out of your dwelling or garage, you may not have more than four employees, because if you do, you no longer qualify as a Home Business or Home Occupation. It also means that if you want to buy a piece of property to operate your business out of — and it is not also your dwelling — there is no district in Chester in which you may do that. There is currently no district in Chester where you may operate a business  where you can park construction-related equipment or store supplies outside — for if you do, you no longer meet the requirements of  Home Business or Home Occupation, which must be “entirely within the dwelling or accessory building.” The change being proposed in the revised UDBs adds Building and Construction Trades back in to all districts as a conditional use.

UDBs, DRBs, current, proposed, revised … it all gets very confusing! If you need more clarification, please attend the next special Select Board meeting and ask questions.

Carla Westine


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  1. Barre Pinske says:

    Thank you Carla for taking the time to paint a clear picture of UDBs for us.

    Folks, it’s important for everyone to realize what’s going on and know the facts.

    If there were two frosted cakes — one made of yummy chocolate and one made of horse crap — the difference would not be known on the surface. Someone could argue the crap cake was the real cake not knowing any better.

    Carla has just taken a knife and made a slice showing the true contents of the cakes. It’s not a guessing game. The new bylaws are better for business. Keeping the old or sending them back for revision would be bad for small business, hold up people with investments and could allow the other side to impose greater restrictions in the future. Encourage your Select Board members to pass the UDBs