OUR ZONING AMENDMENT
Truro's Seashore District is unique. It is a major portion of the Cape Cod National Seashore, not just a Truro treasure but a national one as well, and the town has an important stewardship role to protect this important resource.
A. Limit the size of future buildings to ensure they will be sensitive to the scenic vistas of the Seashore District, minimize impacts on the natural topography and landscape, and be in keeping with the prevailing rural character and size (or "scale") of buildings throughout Truro’s Cape Cod National Seashore District.
Please vote at the April 25, 2017 Town Meeting so that NO HUGE HOUSES will be allowed in the future in Truro’s Seashore District:
Only 3,600 sq. ft. of livable floor area will be allowed by right for a 3 acre lot.
Importantly, the limits are proportional to lot size, allowing an additional 200 sq. ft. more floor space per acre for larger lots, or 200 sq. ft. less per acre for lots under 3 acres.
Also allowed will be another 1,000 sq. ft. upon approval of a Special Permit by the Zoning Board of Appeals.
1) All existing buildings will be "grandfathered in" and allowed.
2) Future allowable building size will be based on lot size (as illustrated in the table below) and either will be:
- Allowed by right – only subject to other town regulations,
- Allowed by Special Permit – up to an additional 1,000 sq. ft. upon approval by the Zoning Board of Appeals, or
- Not Allowed in the future – if the total gross floor area is above the maximum limit.
The square footage of livable floor will be measured, as by the Town Assessor, from the exterior faces of exterior walls.
Under the proposed amendment, the total building size limits by lot size, as above, can be increased upon ZBA review and approval of a Special Permit request,
(a) if the proposed project is in harmony with the Zoning bylaw and Seashore District purpose,
(b) with special conditions as may be required by the ZBA, and
(c) following the standard Zoning Bylaw procedures for Special Permit review and approval.
Importantly, the amendment is fair. The proposed limits are based on house sizes that exist now – very few will become nonconforming. We are NOT suggesting the NPS guideline of a 50% increase limit, which is not proportional to lot size and not fair to owners of smaller existing buildings.
The proposed amendment is based on the successful 2013 Chilmark bylaw, which adopted a sliding scale of permissible building size based on lot size. Our bylaw, as does Chilmark’s, uses the legal precedents capping building size approved by the state’s Supreme Judicial Court in 2008 in the 81 Spooner Road vs. Brookline case. By following the principals of the Spooner case, the proposed bylaw can be defended against challenge, as Truro's Town Counsel states:
I have reviewed the Attorney General’s approval letter for the Chilmark zoning bylaw, which determined that the formula proposed under Section 6.11 of that bylaw “was similar enough” to the Floor Area Ratio bylaw upheld by the Supreme Judicial Court in 81 Spooner Road to conclude that it is not inconsistent with G.L. c.40A, sec.3. I have included a copy of the Attorney General’s approval letter for your information. I note that while the Chilmark Zoning Bylaw has received the approval of the Attorney General, it has not been the subject of any judicial challenge, and the Attorney General’s approval would not render this type of regulation immune from challenge. Although, if challenged, it is my opinion that there would be arguments that could be made in defense of such a regulation.
B. Ensure transparency in decision-making by no longer allowing the Site Plan Review to be waived for properties within the Seashore District.
What are the Implications of the Proposed Limits?
The proposed draft building size limits minimize the creation of non-conforming properties. As shown below, currently, only three properties (the red dots) in the Seashore District would be above the proposed maximum building size limits (shown as the red line). All the other existing properties in the Seashore District are below the overall maximum limit (the blue dots), and most are below the proposed building size limits that are allowable by right (shown as the orange line).