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South Deerfield eyes more housing lots on North Main Street

SOUTH DEERFIELD — North Main Street could be opened up for more housing lots if townspeople approve a recommendation by the Planning Board at the annual town meeting.

According to Planning Board Chairman John Waite, the proposal would rezone the area along North Main Street from Captain Lathrop Drive north to the railroad bridge to central village residential district.

In addition, a small portion of the property is recommended to be changed from residential/agricultural to industrial since it is the driveway to a property currently under industrial use by Pelican Products, Inc.

The goal of the proposal is to clean up the zoning districts. In the 1980s, the town created the central village residential district and based the district on a sewer line that town officials believed stopped on Captain Lathrop Drive. But the town sewer extends to the north end of North Main Street, serving all of the properties affected by the proposed re-zoning, Waite said.

And now most of the North Main Street lots do not meet the minimum dimensional requirements for the residential/ agricultural district and are grandfathered while others comply with the agriculture zone requirements and could be split into smaller residential zones under the change.

“This zoning change would address the problem that most of these properties are located on lots that are classified as pre-existing, nonconforming uses as they do not meet the minimum dimensional requirements for the residential/ agricultural,” Waite said.

The residential/agricultural zone requires a minimum lot size of 60,000 square feet with 200 feet of frontage. The central village residential district sets minimum lot size of 12,000 square feet with 100 feet of frontage.

Waite explained that the current zoning limits the ability of homeowners in this area to make even minor changes to their properties, such as adding a shed or extending a driveway.

“Rezoning these split parcels so that they are in just one district (central village residential district) will regularize the zoning in this area and provide property owners with clarity about the uses allowed on them,” Waite said.

While the proposed re-zoning may free up some lot space for potential development, any new development proposals will be constrained by the placement of existing structures, dimensional requirements under the Zoning Bylaws, and the provisions of the state Rivers Protection Act and the Wetlands Protection Act which limit development activity in a 200-foot buffer zone on each side of Bloody Brook.

Resident Robert Decker originally proposed the change so he could build an extra house on his own lot on North Main Street.

The recommendation was crafted after two public hearings, in which about 20 residents attended, including the Building Commissioner and members of the Zoning Board of Appeals, the Conservation Commission and the Police Department. The board voted to recommend approval by a vote of four to two. The proposed changes are shown on the Proposed North Main Street Re-Zoning Map and the Draft Official Zoning Map, both dated April 29, 2013.

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