What is this bylaw change all about?
The Commonwealth of Massachusetts has a “Smart Growth/Smart Energy Toolkit” for officials and interested individuals on their www.mass.gov website, explaining the advantages of such a bylaw; click here, to get an idea what it is all about.
There is one thing that bothers me about this proposed bylaw change, and I will not support the bylaw in its current form.
Do you like it? Do you know why I don’t like it?
Lets have a discussion and I encourage everybody to come to the public hearing on this bylaw change which is slated for next Tuesday, March 22, 2011, at 19:00 hours at the town hall in the community room.
Here is the text of the proposed “Accessory Dwelling” bylaw:
1.0 Purpose and Intent:
The intent of permitting accessory dwelling units is to:
2.0 Accessory Dwelling Standards
The Planning Board as the Special Permit Granting Authority (SPGA) may issue a Special Permit authorizing the installation and use of an accessory dwelling unit: within an existing or new owner-occupied single-family dwelling; in an attached structure to an existing single family home; or detached structure on a single-family home lot only when the following conditions are met:
- All stairways to the apartment should be enclosed within the exterior walls of the dwelling. Otherwise, they must not be apparent from the street.
- Any new entrance shall be located on the side or in the rear of the dwelling.
- The accessory apartment must use the same driveway as the main dwelling unit;
- Where necessary to provide safe access and egress for disabled persons, the requirements of this paragraph may be waived by the Planning Board.
3.0 Application Procedure
4.0 Administration and Enforcement
5.0 Accessory Apartments in Existence Before the Adoption of An Accessory Apartment Bylaw
Also add to the Holland Use Table:
Dwelling, one family
Accessory Dwelling R=SP, AR=SP, G=SP, RB=SP,SC=SP, C=N
There will be other bylaw changes on the warrant for the special town meeting which will take place on April 19, 2011; one to regulate Bed & Breakfast establishments, and also the required changes to comply with the requirements of the Massachusetts Department of Energy Resources for “Green Community” status. Once Holland is a “Green Community” the town is eligible for state grants under this program.
Please participate on the public hearing next Tuesday, this is important.
March 18, 2011, Peter Frei
PLEASE NOTE! Every term or word typed in bold/italic on this blog is A LINK! Please click on these links to view the documents, websites, and other information these links are linked to.
To view the proposed Accessory Dwelling Bylaw, you just need to scroll up!
Here is what you will hear:
I much rather see a solar panel power plant built on the site than a truck stop, and I hope that this is what will happen on the 73.8 acre lot.
To build the same facilities in the business and rural business district a special permit is required, at 6:24.
These two amendments in connection with solar power generation and clean energy research and manufacturing facilities are mandated in order to be able to qualify for grant money available to “Green Communities.”
At 07:08, Lynn talks about the missed opportunity of last year, when the town was unable to apply for grant money because PBH and the Board of Selectmen had missed the opportunity to bring our town in compliance with the requirements. Lynn stated that the smallest grant that was given last year was $125,000 [...].
At 7:33, Lynn, “we are to late, that’s what this is all about..”
Just so that everybody knows, this is a public hearing. There are extensive minutes taken, those minutes will be published and I’m assuming that’s where everybody will get their information as suppose to tape recording or anything, that’s illegal without a permission, just that you know that.
That’s not correct!
Are you tape recording us?
Yes I do..
I’d like to ask you not to do that..
I refuse, its open meeting law,
I have all the right to record this meeting..
Ok, ok, no problem..
While in other communities, like Wales for instance, important public hearings are videotaped and then transmitted for an entire week around the clock over one of the Cable TV “PEG” channels to inform the community of Wales, here in Holland a constant effort is made to keep the community uninformed.
I reported about Wales’ “PEG” channels in the piece, Worth’s Upside Down Show and the PEG channels in Wales.
Lynn Arnold, by law, is mandated to KNOW, yes that is correct, she is mandated by law to know that everybody has the right to record any public open meeting or public hearings, by audio or video, as long as with, “such recording there is no active interference with the conduct of the meeting.” See G.L. chapter 39, section 23B, subsection (10,) par. 5.
The very next paragraph, par. 6, provides that every elected or appointed official, and Lynn Arnold is one of them, shall be furnished and shall sign a copy of the open meeting law; here is the text of par. 6:
Upon qualification for office following an appointment or election to a governmental body, as defined in this section, the member shall be furnished by the city or town clerk with a copy of this section. Each such member shall sign a written acknowledgment that he has been provided with such a copy.This attempt to prevent me from recording the meeting is just another attempt — and they add up — to be able to act with impunity and free of public scrutiny; thereby promoting a closed government for a few, instead off a government by the people for the people.
At 17:11, Lynn is pondering about the Grossi-Bergeron 73.8 acre parcel, and how well it would be suited to be used for a large scale solar power plant. I full heartedly agree!
When asked if the PBH has an application for a solar power plant, Lynn stated that the PBH has not received an application yet.
The PVPC, according to a publication on their website, called, “2010 PVPC Major Accomplishments,” (page 10), began providing affordable housing technical assistance to Pioneer Valley communities under a grant from the Citizens Housing and Planning Association (CHAPA). PVPC assisted five projects in 2010 by attending public hearings to answer technical questions and developing outreach materials to educate the public and address their concerns raised at these hearings and meetings.
One of these projects was the planned, and by the voters rejected, low-income senior housing project. The Holland Blog informed the readers of the Holland Blog about the $5.28 million project in the piece, Community uproar about the proposed low—income senior housing project.
Thereafter, PVPC approached the PBH to assist with the proposed accessory dwelling bylaw implementation to increase the percentage of affordable housing units.
The proposed Accessory Dwelling Bylaw surprisingly does not mention in any way “Affordable Housing.” Holland could modify its proposed Accessory Dwelling bylaw to allow affordable Accessory Dwellings — that is, Chapter 40B-eligible units — as of right while non-restricted Accessory Dwellings would be allowed by special permit. Many smal communities throughout Massachusetts do have such a provision in their Accessory Apartment/Dwelling Bylaw.
The Commonwealth’s “Model Bylaw for Accessory Dwelling Units,” (page 3) recommends for units within a home, “use as of right,” even without the 40B restriction.
The proposed bylaw in its current form gives the Holland Planning Board TOTAL CONTROL and does so AGAINST the Commonwealth’s recommendation!!
The proposed bylaw will require a special permit to build any accessory dwelling and the Planning Board can reject applications on a whim.
With the known history of power usurpation leading to repeated costly lawsuits this is a dangerous proposition! (The Planning Board is sued by Trenton Carlson as plaintiff right now, and I have little confidence in Lynn Arnold’s ability to do the right thing as the chair person to prevent future lawsuits).
The community is better of without an Accessory Dwelling Bylaw at all; once in place, James Wettlaufer’s “in-law” apartment, built without a building permit, will be legalized and nobody can defend their illegal apartment any longer with, “what’s good for the goose is good for the gander..”
At 34:20, Lynn, “Also, we hope to legalize conversions to encourage compliance with state building code because we know that there are some of these that were not approved .. (illegible).”
YES, James Wettlaufer enjoys already an in-law apartment according to his friends; the in-law apartment is even listed on the Public Record Card of his property on 101 Vinton Road as pictured below:
Wettlaufer's PRC lists under MIXED USE, Code 1012, “SF w/in law, ” which means, “Single Family with in-law apartment.”
Wettlaufer built the “in-law” apartment for his mother in-law, Susan M. Fraser, who died October 20, 2005. She was 94 years old.
The Holland Zoning Bylaw never allowed the construction of in-law apartments since its inception. Wettlaufer built it without a legal permit.
To see a PDF file of Wettlaufer’s entire PRC, click here!
Lynn: This is going to be by special permit only, at 35:00. Lynn is reiterating the need for everybody else, even after the Accessory Dwellings would become legal, to have to go through the special permitting procedure and take a chance..
Is James Wettlaufer, elected chairman of the Board of Selectmen, just smarter then the rest of us??? Or is the word CORRUPT more fitting??
The proposed bylaw would allow three persons to live in an apartment with no more than one single bedroom, at 37:32.
The state “Model Bylaw for Accessory Dwelling Units,” recommends two bedrooms and no more than three persons.
Besides the fact that it is difficult for three persons to live in an apartment with only one bedroom, it also complicates title 5 issues. Flow rates of septic systems are calculated according to bedrooms, and not occupants.
At 41:33, I ask the question why the PBH did not follow the Commonwealth’s recommendation to grant an application for an Accessory Dwelling within the primary dwelling “as of right.”
Lynn, nor any other PBH members or attendees were able to come up with a plausible reason for the need to require a special permit.
At 43:50, Lynn acknowledges that Wettlaufer’s in-law apartment is illegal.
At 46:14, Lynn showed a map with communities which had already amended their zoning bylaw and are located in the area served by the PVPC.
The map showed predominantly communities that require a special permit. As I checked the MODEL ACCESSORY APARTMENT BYLAW, prepared by the PVPC, I noticed that their model required a special permit and did not follow the Commonwealth’s recommendation. This, of course, explains why communities shown on the PVPC map predominantly require a special permit as these communities were assisted by PVPC advisors who followed their own model bylaw.
At 48:08, someone questioned the 250 sqf minimum requirement, informing the PBH members that there is a movement to build tiny houses.
The building inspector, Jack Keough, made the point that the minimum size would be dictated by requirements of the building code and that much smaller footprints ’ smaller than the 250sqf ’ would not be possible because of it. He then suggested to take the minimum requirement of 250 sqf out. at 58:51.
The members of the PBH then agreed to take the minimum requirements of 250 sqf out, at 1:00:00.
The question whether the adoption of this Accessory Dwelling Bylaw will affect the property taxes is anybody’s guess. At the time when the cost per pupil is around $10,000 a year, property taxes can only increase. Accessory Dwellings will not add much value to a particular house. If one of the three persons occupying such an Accessory Dwelling is a child attending a public school, the cost to the community will be far greater then the increase in the property taxes paid.
The proposed Accessory Dwelling Bylaw, in its current form, is a bad idea!
March 24, 2011, Peter Frei