Chapter 7-02


7-02-010    Authority

7-02-020    Purposes

7-02-030    Applicability

7-02-040    Definitions

7-02-010 Authority.

The following is the Zoning Bylaw of the Town of Northborough, Massachusetts, and is published in accordance with the provisions of MGL C. 40A.

(4-27-09 ATM, Art. 31; 4-26-10 ATM, Art. 28.)

7-02-020 Purposes.

The purposes of this Zoning Bylaw are to promote the general welfare of the Town of Northborough; to protect the health and safety of its inhabitants; to encourage the most appropriate use of land throughout the town; to provide for adequate light and clean air, and to limit pollution; to preserve the natural, historical, scenic and aesthetic qualities of the town; to encourage preservation of historic land uses and structures; to increase the amenities of the town; to facilitate the adequate provision of transportation, water, water supply, drainage, sewerage, schools, parks, open space and other public requirements; to further the goals and policies of the Northborough Master Plan and other plans as approved and amended from time to time by the Planning Board; and to reduce the hazard from fire by regulating the location and use of buildings and the area of open space around them, all as authorized by, but not limited to, the provisions of the Zoning Act, MGL C. 40A, as amended, and by Article 89 of the Amendments to the Constitution of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.

(4-27-09 ATM, Art. 31; 4-26-10 ATM, Art. 28.)

7-02-030 Applicability.

Except as otherwise permitted by law, all buildings or structures hereinafter erected, reconstructed, altered, enlarged, or moved, and the use of all premises in the town, shall be in conformity with the provisions of this bylaw. No building, structure or land shall be used for any purpose or in any manner other than as expressly permitted within the district in which such building, structure, or land is located. Where the application of this bylaw imposes greater restrictions than those imposed by any other regulations, permits, restrictions, easements, covenants, or agreements, the provisions of this bylaw shall control.

(4-27-09 ATM, Art. 31; 4-26-10 ATM, Art. 28.)

7-02-040 Definitions.

In this bylaw, the following terms and constructions shall apply unless a contrary meaning is required by the context or is specifically prescribed in the text of the bylaw. Words used in the present tense include the future. The singular includes the plural and the plural includes the singular. The abbreviation “sq. ft.” shall include square foot or square feet. The word “shall” is mandatory and “may” is permissive or discretionary. The word “and” includes “or” unless the contrary is evident from the text. The word “includes” or “including” shall not limit a term to specified examples, but is intended to extend its meaning to all other instances, circumstances, or items of like character or kind. The word “lot” includes “plot”; the word “used” or “occupied” shall be considered as though followed by the words “or intended, arranged, or designed to be used or occupied.” The words “building,” “structure,” “lot,” or “parcel” shall be construed as being followed by the words “or any portion thereof.” The word “person” includes a firm, association, organization, partnership, company, or corporation, as well as an individual.

Terms and words not defined herein but defined in the Massachusetts State Building Code shall have the meaning given therein unless a contrary intention is clearly evident in this bylaw.

Principal and accessory uses shall be as defined in Section 7-05-020, Classification of uses. In addition, other chapters and sections of this bylaw contain definitions particular to the subject matter for which they have been established. Such chapters and sections include but are not limited to Section 7-07-010, Groundwater Protection Overlay District; Section 7-09-010, Land clearing and grading; Section 7-09-040, Signs; Section 7-10-040, Wireless communications facilities; and Section 7-10-050, Adult uses.

ACCESSORY STRUCTURE - A structure located on the same lot as, but detached from, a principal building or use, the use of which is customarily incidental to that of the principal building or use, such as detached garages, utility sheds, gazebos, and swimming pools.

AGRICULTURE, NONEXEMPT - Agricultural use of property not exempt under MGL C. 40A, § 3.

ALTERATIONS - As applied to a building or structure, a change or rearrangement in the structural parts or in the exit facilities, or an enlargement whether by extending on a side or by increasing in height, or the moving from one (1) location or position to another.

BUILDING - A structure enclosed within exterior walls or firewalls, built, erected, and framed of a combination of any materials, whether portable or fixed, having a roof, to form a structure for the shelter of persons, animals, or property. For the purposes of this definition, “roof” shall include an awning or any similar covering, whether or not permanent in nature.

BUILDING AREA - The aggregate maximum horizontal cross-sectional area of all buildings on a lot, not including cornices, eaves, gutters, chimneys, unenclosed porches, bay windows, balconies, and terraces.


BUILDING HEIGHT - Building height shall be measured as the vertical distance from the average finish grade at the perimeter of the building to the average height of the highest roof plane. Building height shall not include spires, cupolas, antennas, or similar parts of structures which do not enclose potentially habitable floor space.

BUILDING LINE - A line through any point of the exterior of the building or structure.

BUILDING, PRINCIPAL - A building in which is conducted the main or principal use of the lot on which said building is situated.

DEVELOPMENT REVIEW TEAM - A working group composed of the following department heads or their designees: Building Inspector, Town Planner, Director of Public Works, Town Engineer, and Fire Chief; and may include the Health Agent and a designee of the Design Review Committee as determined by the Building Inspector.

DWELLING - A building designed and occupied as the living quarters of one (1) or more families. (See also Section 7-05-020.)

EARTH REMOVAL - Extraction of sand, gravel, top soil, or other earth for sale or for use at a site removed from the place of extraction exclusive of the grading of a lot preparatory to the construction of a building for which a building permit has been issued, or the grading of streets in accordance with an approved definitive plan, and exclusive of granite operations.

EDUCATIONAL USE, NONEXEMPT - Educational facilities not exempt under MGL C. 40A, § 3, such as a commercial or for-profit educational use.

ERECT - To build, construct, reconstruct, move upon, or conduct any physical development of the premises required for a building; to excavate, fill, drain, and the like preparation for building shall also be considered to erect.

ESSENTIAL SERVICES - Services provided by a public service corporation or by governmental agencies through erection, construction, alteration, or maintenance of gas, electrical, steam, or water transmission or distribution systems and collection, communication, supply, or disposal systems whether underground or overhead, but not including wireless communications facilities. Facilities necessary for the provision of essential services include poles, wires, drains, sewers, pipes, conduits, cables, fire alarm boxes, police call boxes, traffic signals, hydrants and other similar equipment in connection therewith, but not including wind towers.

FAMILY - Any number of individuals living and cooking together on the premises as a single housekeeping unit. For purposes of this bylaw, “family” shall include unrelated individuals with disabilities occupying a group home owned or operated by a public agency or nonprofit organization.

FARM - A lot or contiguous lots under one (1) ownership devoted primarily to commercial agriculture or horticultural use, including a farm stand and other accessory buildings and structures, vehicles, animals and equipment, on five (5) or more acres of land.

FARM STAND, NONEXEMPT - Facility for the sale of produce, wine and dairy products on property not exempt under MGL C. 40A, § 3.

FLEA MARKET - A building or open area in which stalls or sales areas are set aside, and rented or otherwise provided, and which are intended for use by various unrelated individuals to sell articles that are either homemade, homegrown, handcrafted, old, obsolete, or antique and may include selling goods at retail by businesses or individuals who are generally engaged in retail trade. Flea markets are conventional, permanent profit seeking businesses that require all local permits and licenses.

FLOOR AREA, GROSS - The total square feet (sq. ft.) of floor space within the outside dimensions of a building including each floor level, without deduction for hallways, stairs, closets, thickness of walls, columns, or other features. The computation of gross floor area shall include garages and basements with ceiling heights of six (6) feet or more.

GRADE PLANE - A reference plane representing the average of finished ground level adjoining a building at all exterior walls. Where the finished ground level slopes away from the exterior walls, the reference plane shall be established by the lowest points within the area between the building and the lot line or, where the lot line is more than six (6) feet from the building, between the building and a point six (6) feet from the building.

HAZARDOUS MATERIAL - Any substance which is listed in, but not limited to, the United States Environmental Protection Agency’s priority pollutants as described in Section 307(a) of the Clean Water Act, as amended.

IMPERVIOUS - Any area impenetrable by surface water. For purposes of this bylaw, impervious includes semi-pervious or semi-porous paving materials.

ISSUING AUTHORITY - The board, commission, or officer of the town authorized to grant a permit or approval under this bylaw.

JUNK - Any article or material or collection thereof which is worn out, cast off or discarded and which is ready for destruction or has been collected or stored for salvage or conversion. Any article or material which, unaltered or unchanged and without further reconditioning, can be used for its original purpose as readily as when new shall not be considered junk.

JUNKYARD OR AUTOMOBILE GRAVEYARD - The use of any area or any lot, whether inside or outside of a building, for the storage, keeping, or abandonment of junk, scrap or discarded materials, or the dismantling, demolition, or abandonment of automobiles, other vehicles, machinery, or parts thereof.

LOT - A continuous parcel of land with legally definable boundaries.

LOT AREA - The horizontal area of the lot exclusive of any area in a street or recorded way open to public use.

LOT COVERAGE - The proportion of the area of a lot which is covered by principal and accessory structures. For purposes of calculating lot coverage, the area of an enclosed structure shall be taken as all of the horizontal area within outside walls. The projection of cornices, eaves, and other similar architectural projections shall not be included in the calculation of coverage. Coverage shall include all principal and accessory buildings including dwellings, garages, carports, greenhouses, lath houses, enclosed patios, and equipment and tool sheds. Coverage shall not include areas paved at grade for driveways, walkways, uncovered parking, uncovered or unenclosed swimming pools, walls or fences, covered but unenclosed patios, or structures used for beautification or landscaping such as arbors, trellises, and flagpoles.

LOT, CORNER - A lot with two (2) adjacent sides abutting upon streets or other public spaces.

LOT, DEPTH OF - The mean distance from the street line of the lot to its opposite rear line measured in the general direction of the side lines of the lot.

LOT FRONTAGE - A lot line coinciding with the sideline of a street which provides both legal rights of vehicular access and physical vehicular access to the lot, said line to be measured continuously along a single street or along two (2) intersecting streets if their angle of intersection is greater than one hundred twenty degrees (120°). Vehicular access to a building site on the lot shall be exclusively through the frontage of the lot.

LOT LINE - A line dividing one (1) lot from another, or from a street or any public place.

LOT WIDTH, MINIMUM - The required minimum lot frontage shall extend from the front lot line to the rear building line of the main building and shall be equal to or greater than the required minimum lot frontage dimension per Section 7-06-020 and Table 2. If the lot has reduced frontage per Section 7-06-030(B)(2), the minimum lot width per Section 7-06-020 and Table 2 shall apply from the front building line to the rear building line of the main building. If the lot has reduced frontage per Section 7-06-030(B)(3), the minimum lot width at the main building line shall not be less than one hundred (100) feet.

MUNICIPAL FACILITIES - Facilities owned or operated by the Town of Northborough or the Northborough-Southborough Regional School District.

NONCONFORMING STRUCTURE - Any structure which does not conform to the dimensional requirements of this bylaw, or which is located on a lot which does not comply with the frontage or lot size requirements, which was existing and lawful at the time of the adoption or subsequent amendment of this bylaw.

NONCONFORMING USE - A use of a building or land, existing and lawful at the time of the adoption or subsequent amendment of this bylaw, which does not conform to the regulations of the current Zoning Bylaw.

PARKING AREA AND/OR ACCESS DRIVE - An impervious surface constructed for an access drive and/or the parking of vehicles.

PROPONENT - The applicant for a building permit, certificate of zoning compliance, site plan approval, special permit, variance, waiver, or other decision required under this bylaw.

RETAIL - Any facility selling goods to consumers regardless of whether it is specifically listed in the Table of Uses.

SIGN - See Section 7-09-040 for definition of SIGN and related terms.

SOLID WASTE DISPOSAL FACILITY - Refuse transfer station, composting plant, solid waste recycling operation and any other works or use approved by the Massachusetts Department of Public Health and the Board of Health of the Town of Northborough for processing, handling, treating, and disposing of solid or liquid waste materials, including garbage, rubbish, junk, discarded bulk items, and sludges but not raw sewage, and similar waste items.

SPECIAL PERMIT - A permit that may be issued by the special permit granting authority to authorize a use which would not be allowed generally or without restriction throughout any particular zoning district but which, if controlled as to number, area, location, relation to the neighborhood and other characteristics, would not be injurious to the public health, safety, welfare, order, appearance, prosperity, or general welfare. A special permit is not a variance, but it may include a waiver of dimensional and similar requirements incidental to the special permit.

STREET - An accepted town way, or a way established by or maintained under county, state, or federal authority, or a way established by a subdivision plan approved in accordance with the subdivision control law, or a way determined by the Planning Board to have sufficient width, suitable grades, and adequate construction to provide for the needs of vehicular traffic in relation to the proposed use of the land, and for the installation of municipal services to serve such land and the buildings erected or to be erected thereon.

STREET LINE - The right-of-way line of a street.

STRUCTURE - A combination of materials assembled at a fixed location to give support or shelter, such as a building, retaining wall which retains more than four (4) feet of unbalanced fill, tent of one hundred twenty (120) square feet or more and for the use of ten (10) or more persons, reviewing stand, platform, fence six (6) feet or more in height, sign, flagpole, recreational tramway, mast for radio antenna, or the like.

TEMPORARY STRUCTURE - A structure without any foundation or footings to be removed within a twelve-month time period. Said structure shall conform to the requirements of the Schedule of Density and Dimensional Requirements and shall require a permit or a certificate of zoning compliance from the Building Inspector.

TOXIC MATERIALS - A combination of pollutants including disease-carrying agents, which after discharge and upon exposure, ingestion, inhalation, and assimilation into any organism can cause death, disease, mutations, deficiencies, or malfunctions in such organisms or their offspring.

USES - The purpose for which a building or land is arranged or intended for which a building or tract of land is or may be used, occupied or maintained.

WETLANDS - Land subject to the provisions of MGL C. 131, § 40.

YARD - A space open to the sky, located between a building or structure and a lot line, unoccupied except by fences, walls, poles, paving, and customary yard accessories.

YARD, FRONT - A yard extending the full width of the lot and situated between the street line and the nearest point of the building.

YARD, REAR - A yard the full width of the lot and situated between the rear lot line and the nearest part of the main building projected to the side line of the lot.

YARD, SIDE - A yard situated between the nearest point of the building and the side lot line and extending from the front yard to the rear yard. Any lot line not a rear line or a front line shall be deemed a side line.

(4-27-09 ATM, Art. 31; 4-26-10 ATM, Art. 28; 4-24-12 ATM, Art. 36; 4-22-13 ATM; 4-27-15 ATM, Art. 49.)