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Posted on: April 10, 2023

Amendments to Southbridge Zoning ByLaw Sections 5, 9-1 & 10

Below are the proposed amendments to Southbridge Zoning By Law Sections 5, 9-1 and 10.  Readings by the Town Council will occur on 4/24/23, 5/8/23 and 5/22/23. If you would like hard copies for review, please contact Hannah Prescott, Executive Assistant to the Town Manager, or Eric Rumsey, Town Planner. 

No building or structure in any district shall be located, constructed, changed, enlarged or permitted
and no use of premises or land in any district shall be permitted which does not conform to the
density and dimensional regulations set forth in Table 2: Schedule of Dimensional and Density
A. In residential zones (R1, R2, R3) more than one principal use on a lot is prohibited.
B. Computation of Lot Area. In computing the area of any non-residential lot, no part of a public or
private way shall be included. For every lot laid out for residential use, at least 50 percent of the
required lot area shall be land exclusive of area subject to protection under the Wetlands
Protection Act, G.L. c. 131, § 40.
C. No lot shall be so reduced as to fail to satisfy any minimum dimension, area, or yard required for
a permitted principal use except as provided in Section 8.1, Open Space Residential Development.
5.2.1. Supplemental Lot Regulations
A. Lot Frontage.
1. Minimum Lot Frontage Required: Every newly created lot must have at least the
minimum frontage set forth in Table 2 for the district in which the lot is located on a street
as defined in Section 2 of this Bylaw. Required Frontage for rear lots shall be a minimum
of fifty (50) feet (R1), front setback begins where the lot meets the minimum lot frontage
requirement in table 2.
2. Measurement of Lot Frontage: Frontage is measured in a continuous line along the street
right-of-way between the points of intersection of the side lot lines with the street right of-way line. 

The measurement of lot frontage excludes jogs in the street width and other irregularities in the street line.
3. Access: An owner shall provide a means of access for vehicles from the frontage to a
principal building for emergency services, deliveries, and off-street parking. All access to
lots shall be through the lot frontage. No more than two rear lots shall have contiguous
B. Lot Width: No lot shall at any point between the front building line of the principal building and
the lot frontage have less width than 75 percent of the required lot frontage for the district in
which the frontage is located.
C. Yard Requirements.
1. No part of a yard or other open space required in connection with any building shall be
used to meet the requirements for any other building unless specifically permitted in this
2. No required yard abutting a public street shall be used for the storage or display or
abandonment of merchandise, lumber, building material, equipment, salvable
secondhand items, or any type of junk, scrap, trash, rubble, or discarded or abandoned
equipment or materials unless specifically permitted in this Bylaw.
D. Corner Visibility.
1. Buildings: On a corner lot, there shall be erected no building or structure, fence, foliage,
or other obstruction so as to impede traffic visibility within the space bounded as follows:
a) In a residence district, the two intersecting street lines and a circular curve about the
point of intersection of the two street lines and having a radius equal to one and twothirds times the setback required in that district, and
b) In a business or industrial district, the two intersecting street lines, and a straight line
connecting the points on both street lines 10 feet from their point of intersection;
2. Provided where the interior angle between the intersecting street lines is greater than
105 degrees, or where the street lines intersect in a curve having a radius greater than
twice the setback required in that district, these regulations shall be waived, and the
setback line established parallel to or concentric with the street lines.
3. Vegetation: Between the street lines of intersecting streets, and a circular curve about the
point of intersection of the two street lines and having a radius equal to twice the setback
required in that district, no vegetation other than shade trees may be maintained in any
residence district above a height three feet above the plane through the established
grades at the street lines; nor in any other district, within the corner space as described
in the foregoing paragraph.
E. Maximum Building Height. Building height shall be determined by Table 2 in this section.
Limitations of height shall not apply to cupolas, belfries, chimneys, flag (limited to 110% of the
height of the structure on the property) or radio poles, grain elevators/silos, water towers,
elevator enclosures, water tanks, nor to municipal or institutional buildings.
F. Appurtenant Open Space. No building setback area or other open space required for a building
under this Section 5 shall, during the life of such building, be occupied by or counted as open
space for another building.
5.2.2. Transition Between Districts
Proper buffering either by a ten (10) foot planted strip and/or adequate fencing is required. See
Section 7.2.4D

9.1.1. Purposes
The purposes of the Flood Plain District are to:
A. Ensure public safety through reducing the threats to life and personal injury.
B. Eliminate new hazards to emergency response officials;
C. Prevent the occurrence of public emergencies resulting from water quality, contamination, and
pollution due to flooding;
D. Avoid the loss of utility services which if damaged by flooding would disrupt or shut down the
utility network and impact regions of the community beyond the site of flooding;
E. Eliminate costs associated with the response and cleanup of flooding conditions;
F. Reduce damage to public and private property resulting from flooding waters.
9.1.2. Overlay District Defined
The Floodplain District is herein established as an overlay district. The District includes all special
flood hazard areas within the Town of Southbridge designated as Zone A, AE, AH, AO, or A99 on the
Worcester County Flood Insurance Rate Map (FIRM) dated June 21, 2023, as amended, issued by
the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) for the administration of the National Flood
Insurance Program. The exact boundaries of the District shall be defined by the 1%-chance base
flood elevations shown on the FIRM and further defined by the Worcester County Flood Insurance
Study (FIS) report dated June 21, 2023, as amended. The FIRM and FIS report are incorporated
herein by reference and are on file with the Town Clerk, Planning Board, Building Official,
Conservation Commission and Board of Health.
9.1.3. Base Flood Elevation and Floodway Data
A. In Zones A, A1-30, and AE, along watercourses that have not had a regulatory floodway
designated, the best available Federal, State, local, or other floodway data shall be used to prohibit
encroachments in floodways which would result in any increase in flood levels within the
community during the occurrence of the base flood discharge.
B. In Zones A1-30 and AE, along watercourses that have a regulatory floodway designated on the
Town’s FIRM encroachments are prohibited, including fill, new construction, substantial
improvements, and other development within the adopted regulatory floodway unless it has
been demonstrated through hydrologic and hydraulic analyses performed in accordance with
standard engineering practice that the proposed encroachment would not result in any increase
in flood levels within the community during the occurrence of the base flood discharge.
C. Base Flood Elevation Data. Base flood elevation data is required for subdivision proposals or
other developments greater than 50 lots or 5 acres, whichever is the lessor, within unnumbered
A zones.
9.1.4. Designation of community Floodplain Administrator
The Town of Southbridge hereby designates the position of Director of Public Works to be the official
floodplain administrator for the Town.
9.1.5. Notification of Watercourse Alteration or Relocations in Riverine Areas / Requirement
to Submit New Technical Data
If the Town acquires data that changes the base flood elevation in the FEMA mapped Special Flood
Hazard Areas, the Town will, within 6 months, notify FEMA of these changes by submitting
the technical or scientific data that supports the change(s.) In a riverine situation, the
Floodplain Administrator shall notify the following of any alteration or relocation of a watercourse.
Notification shall be submitted to:
A. Adjacent Communities, especially upstream and downstream
B. Bordering States, if affected,
C. NFIP State Coordinator-Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation
D. NFIP Program Specialist- FEMA Region 1
9.1.6. Development Regulations
A. Special Permits. In the floodplain, no structure or building shall be erected, constructed,
substantially improved, or otherwise created or moved; no earth or other materials dumped,
filled, or otherwise created or moved; no earth or other materials dumped, filled, excavated, or
transferred, including new construction or changes to existing buildings, placement of
manufactured homes, placement of agricultural facilities, fences, sheds, storage facilities or
drilling, mining, paving and any other development that might increase flooding or adversely
impact flood risks to other properties unless a Special Permit is granted by the Planning
Board. A Special Permit may be issued under this Section 9.1 (subject to other applicable
provisions of this Bylaw) if the application complies with all of the following provisions:
1. The proposed use shall comply in all respects with the provisions of the
underlying Zoning District.
2. Within 10 days of receipt of the application, the Planning Board shall transmit one copy
of the development plan to the Conservation Commission, Planning Board, Board of
Health, DPW Director or designee and Zoning Enforcement Officer. Final action shall not
be taken until reports have been received from the above Boards or until 35 days have
3. All encroachments, including fill, new construction, substantial improvements to
existing structures, and other development are prohibited unless certification by a
registered professional engineer is provided by the applicant demonstrating
that such encroachment shall not result in any increase in flood levels during the
occurrence of the 100-year flood.
4. The Planning Board may specify such additional requirements and conditions it finds
necessary to protect the health, safety and welfare of the public and the occupants of the
proposed use.
5. The town’s permit review process includes the requirement that the proponent obtain all
local, state and federal permits that will be necessary in order to carry out the proposed
development in the floodplain overlay district. The proponent must acquire all necessary
permits, and must demonstrate that all necessary permits have been acquired.
6. In A Zones, in the absence of FEMA BFE data and floodway data, the building department
will obtain, review and reasonably utilize base flood elevation and floodway data
available from a Federal, State, or other source as criteria for requiring new construction,
substantial improvements, or other development in Zone A and as the basis for elevating
residential structures to or above base flood level, for floodproofing or elevating
nonresidential structures to or above base flood level, and for prohibiting encroachments
in floodways.
7. Within Zones AO and AH on the FIRM, adequate drainage paths must be provided around
structures on slopes, to guide floodwaters around and away from proposed structures.
8. In A1-30, AH, and AE Zones, all recreational vehicles to be placed on a site must be
elevated and anchored in accordance with the zone’s regulations for foundation and
elevation requirements or be on the site for less than 180 consecutive days or be fully
licensed and highway ready.
B. All development in the Floodplain District, including structural and non-structural activities,
whether permitted by right or by special permit, must comply with G.L. c. 131, § 40 and the
1. 780 CMR (Massachusetts State Building Code);
2. 310 CMR (Commonwealth of Massachusetts Regulations), Department of Environmental
Protection, Wetlands Protection Regulations (currently Section 10.00);
3. Minimum Requirements for the Subsurface Disposal of Sanitary Sewage, DEP (currently
310 CMR 15, Title 5).
A variance from these floodplain bylaws must meet the requirements set out by State law, and may
only be granted if: 1) Good and sufficient cause and exceptional non-financial hardship exist; 2) the
variance will not result in additional threats to public safety, extraordinary public expense, or
fraud or victimization of the public; and 3) the variance is the minimum action necessary to afford
Variances to Building Code Floodplain Standards:
If the State issues variances to the flood-resistant standards as found in the state building code,
the community will use this text for local adoption: The Town will request from the State Building
Code Appeals Board a written and/or audible copy of the portion of the hearing related to
the variance, and will maintain this record in the community’s files.
The Town shall also issue a letter to the property owner regarding potential impacts to the
annual premiums for the flood insurance policy covering that property, in writing over the
signature of a community official that (i) the issuance of a variance to construct a structure
below the base flood level will result in increased premium rates for flood insurance up to amounts
as high as $25 for $100 of insurance coverage and (ii) such construction below the base flood level increases risks to life and
Such notification shall be maintained with the record of all variance actions for the referenced
development in the floodplain overlay district.
9.1.7. Abrogation
The floodplain management regulations found in this Floodplain Overlay District section shall take
precedence over any less restrictive conflicting local laws, ordinances or codes.
9.1.8. Disclaimer of Liability
The degree of flood protection required by this bylaw is considered reasonable but does not imply
total flood protection.
9.1.9. Severability
If any section, provision or portion of this bylaw is deemed to be unconstitutional or invalid by a
court, the remainder of the ordinance shall be effective.

For purposes of this Bylaw and unless the context of usage clearly indicates another meaning, the
following terms shall have the meanings indicated herein. Words used in the present tense include
the future. The singular includes the plural and the plural includes the singular. 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 words "used" or "occupied" include the words
"designed," "arranged," "intended," or "offered," to be used or occupied; the words "building,"
"structure," "lot," "land," or "premises" shall be construed as though followed by the words "or any
portion thereof"; and the words "shall" is always mandatory and not merely directory.
Terms and words not defined herein but defined in the State Building Code shall have meanings given
therein unless a contrary intention clearly appears in this Bylaw. Words not defined in either place
shall have the meaning given in the most recent edition of Webster's Unabridged Dictionary.
ACCESSORY STRUCTURE: A structure located on the same lot with the main building, detached or
attached, and customarily incidental and subordinate to the use of the main building.
ACCESSORY USE: A use that is customarily incidental and subordinate to that of the main building or
use of land and that is located on the same lot and under the same ownership in all respects.
ADULT DAY CARE: Social day care or adult day health facility as those terms are defined by the
Massachusetts Department of Elder Affairs.
AS OF RIGHT SITING: A use designated as YES (Y) in the Table of Use Regulations that may proceed
without the need for a special permit, amendment, waiver, variance, or other discretionary approval,
but may be subject to site plan review to determine conformance with these bylaws. Such uses can
be reasonably regulated by site plan approval and Inspections staff.
ADULT USES. The following terms are associated with Adult Uses.
ADULT USE ESTABLISHMENT: An establishment having a substantial or significant portion of its
business activity, stock in trade, or other materials for sale, rental or display, which are
distinguished or characterized by their emphasis on matter depicting, describing, or relating to
sexual conduct as defined in G.L. c. 272, § 31, including but not limited to the following: any adult
bookstore, adult cabaret, adult motion picture theater, adult paraphernalia store or adult video
store as defined below:
ADULT BOOKSTORE: An establishment having as a substantial or significant portion of its stock
in trade, books, magazines, and other matter which are distinguished or characterized by their
emphasis depicting, describing, or relating to sexual conduct or sexual excitement as defined in
G.L. c. 272, § 31.
ADULT CABARET: A nightclub, bar, restaurant, tavern, dance hall, or similar commercial
establishment which present: (a) persons who appear in a state of nudity as defined in G.L. c. 272,
§ 31; or (b) live performances which are characterized by an emphasis depicting anatomical areas
specified as less than completely and opaquely covered human genitals, pubic region, buttock and
female breast below a point immediately above the top of the areola, and human genitals in a state
of sexual arousal, or relating to sexual conduct or sexual excitement as defined in G.L. c. 272, § 31;
or (c) films, motion pictures, video cassettes, slides, photographic reproductions or any other
visual media which are characterized by the depiction or description of anatomical areas specified
as above, or relating to sexual conduct or sexual excitement as defined in G.L. c. 272, § 31.
ADULT MOTION PICTURE THEATER: An enclosed building used for presenting material
(including, but not limited to, motion picture films, video cassettes, cable television, slides or any
other such visual media) distinguished by an emphasis on matter depicting, describing, or relating
to sexual conduct or sexual excitement as defined in G.L. c. 272, § 31.
ADULT PARAPHERNALIA STORE: An establishment having as a portion of its stock devices,
objects, tools, or toys which are distinguished by their association with sexual activity, including
sexual intercourse, sexual conduct or sexual excitement as defined in G.L. c. 272, § 31.
ADULT VIDEO STORE: An establishment having as a substantial or significant portion of its stock
in trade - for sale or rent - motion picture films, video cassettes, and similar audio/visual media,
which are distinguished or characterized by their emphasis depicting, describing, or relating to
sexual conduct or sexual excitement as defined in G.L. c. 272, § 31.
SUBSTANTIAL OR SIGNIFICANT PORTION: (a) 20 percent or more of the business inventory or
stock of merchandise for sale, rental distribution, or exhibition during any period of time; or (b)
20 percent or more of the annual number of gross sales, rentals, or other business transactions;
or (c) 20 percent or more of the annual gross business revenue; or (d) 20 percent or more of the
hours during which the establishment is open.
AGRICULTURE, EXEMPT: As defined in M.G.L. c. 40A, § 3.
AGRICULTURE, NON-EXEMPT: The keeping of livestock, horticultural uses, viticulture, and
silviculture; on a non-exempt farm in a manner that complies with regulations of the Board of Health,
including chickens, turkeys, ducks, cows, goats, sheep, alpaca, llamas, donkeys, burros and mules,
wild rabbits, and emu, and excludes roosters, pigs, geese, bulls, and oxen, and other non-domestic
AUTO-RELATED USES. The following terms relate to auto services and sales.
AUTOMOBILE REPAIR GARAGE: An establishment, garage or work areas enclosed within a
building for the servicing and repair of motor vehicles, but not including (1) installing new parts
or accessories that are not replacements for existing parts or accessories (e.g., customizing), or (2)
towing or storing a motor vehicle, or (3) storage of vehicles for the cannibalization of vehicle parts,
or (4) fuel sales, or (5) indoor or outdoor sale and rental of motor vehicles, box truck, cargo van,
motorcycle, trailer, all-terrain vehicle, snowmobile, boat or personal water craft.
AUTOMOBILE SERVICE STATION: A building, structure, or area of land used for the retail sale of
automobile fuels, oils, and accessories, where repair service, if any, is incidental; excluding storage
of abandoned motor vehicles on the premises. May include the sale of propane or kerosene as
accessory uses.
GARAGE, PRIVATE: Covered space for the housing of motor vehicles, but not for commercial
storage or rental of more than two (2) stalls.
GARAGE, PUBLIC OR STORAGE: A building or part thereof, other than private garage, for the
storage of motor vehicles.
BED AND BREAKFAST: An owner-occupied dwelling providing overnight accommodations for
transient guests, where only breakfast is served.
BILLBOARD: A sign which directs attention to a business, commodity, service entertainment or
attraction, sold, offered or located elsewhere than upon the same lot where such sign is displayed or
only incidentally upon such lot.
BOARDING HOUSE: A non-owner occupied dwelling providing rooms for rent to not more than four
unrelated people paying rent on a weekly or monthly basis, with shared cooking, eating, and
sanitation facilities and adequate means of emergency egress as well as parking as determined by the
Zoning Enforcement Officer and subject to annual licensure by the Town Council.
BODY ART: The practice of physical adornment by permitted establishments and practitioners using,
but not limited to, the following techniques: Body piercing, tattooing, cosmetic tattooing, branding,
and scarification. This definition does not include practices that are considered medical procedures
by the Board of Registration in medicine, such as implants under the skin, which are prohibited.
BUILDING-RELATED TERMS. The following terms apply to buildings.
BUILDING: A combination of any materials, whether portable or fixed, having a roof, to form a
structure for shelter of persons, animals or property. For this definition, "roof" shall include an
awning or any similar covering whether or not permanent in nature. The word "building" shall be
construed where the context requires as though followed by the words "or part or parts, thereof".
BUILDING AREA: The ground area enclosed by the walls of a building together with the area of all
covered porches and other roofed portions.
BUILDING HEIGHT: The vertical distance measured from the established grade in business or
industry districts, or from the natural grade in residence districts if higher than the established
grade or if no grade has been established, to the level of the highest point of the roof beams in the
case of flat roofs or roofs inclining not more than one inch to the foot, and to the mean height level
between the top of the main plate and the highest ridge in the case of other roofs. Where the lot
faces on two or more streets the "established grade" is the average level of the grade on that street
frontage where the average grade is highest.
STORY: A "story" is that portion of a building between a floor and the ceiling next above it.
STORY, GROUND: A "ground" story or "first" story is the lowest story entirely above the
established or natural grade, whichever level is higher, except that if any basement or cellar is
used for residence purposes by more than one person, such basement or cellar shall be deemed to
be the first story.
STORY, HALF: The space used for residence purposes above the highest full story provided the
roof plate is not higher than four (4) feet above the floor. An "attic" is the space between the top
story and a pitched roof.
BUILDING COMMISSIONER: The administrative chief of the building department, meeting the
minimum qualifications in G.L. c. 143, § 3 and certified in accordance with 780 CMR R7, with
responsibility for administering and enforcing 780 CMR in the Town of Southbridge.
CAFETERIA: A type of food service establishment where food is provided for consumption on the
premises on a self-serve or limited-service basis where customers select food from a buffet-style
display, and with tables or group seating arrangements in a common dining room.
CAMP,: A parcel of land used or intended to be used, let or rented for temporary short-term
occupancy (not to exceed 90 days) by campers or transient tourists utilizing tents, recreational
vehicles or other types of movable or temporary shelter.
CLEARING: The removal and/or cutting of trees, shrubs, bushes, or bush; or grubbing.
CLUB: An association of persons which is the owner, lessee or occupant of an establishment operated
solely for a recreational, social, fraternal, religious, political, or athletic purpose, whose activities are
confined to the members and guests and are not generally extended to the general public and
includes the establishment so operated.
COMMERCIAL RECREATION, INDOOR: A structure for recreational, social, or amusement purposes,
which may include as an accessory use the consumption of food and drink, including all connected
rooms or space with a common means of egress and entrance. Places of assembly shall include
theatres, concert halls, dance halls, skating rinks, bowling alleys, health clubs, dance studios, or other
commercial recreational centers conducted for or not for profit.
COMMERCIAL RECREATION, OUTDOOR: Drive-in theatre, golf course/driving range, bathing beach,
sports club, horseback riding stable, boathouse, game preserve, marina or other commercial
recreation carried on in whole or in part outdoors, except those activities more specifically
designated in this Bylaw.
CONTRACTOR'S YARD: Land used for the storage of commercial construction equipment, materials,
and supplies and for the parking of registered commercial vehicles.
DORMITORY: Housing for students and faculty of educational institutions.
DWELLING- AND RESIDENCE-RELATED TERMS. The following terms relate to dwellings and
types of dwellings. (See also, SENIOR HOUSING.)
DWELLING, MULTIFAMILY: A building designed or intended or used as the residence of three or
more families, each occupying a separate dwelling unit and living independently of each other, and
who may have a common right in halls and stairways; with the number of families in residence
not exceeding the number of dwelling units provided.
DWELLING, SINGLE-FAMILY DETACHED: A dwelling other than a mobile home, singly and apart
from any other building, designed or intended or used exclusively as the residence of one family.
DWELLING, TOWNHOUSE OR SINGLE-FAMILY ATTACHED: A residential building of at least three
but not more than eight single-family dwelling units sharing at least one common or party or fire
wall, and with each building having at least one floor at ground level with a separate entrance.
DWELLING, TWO_FAMILY: A detached residential building designed or intended or used
exclusively as the residence of two families. A two-family dwelling shall not include a detached
single-family dwelling with an accessory apartment.
DWELLING UNIT: A single unit providing complete independent living facilities for one or more
persons including permanent provisions for living, sleeping, eating, cooking and sanitation.
GROUP HOME: A premise licensed by or operated by an agency of the Commonwealth of
Massachusetts or subdivision thereof as a special residence for people with disabilities.
EDUCATIONAL AND INSTITUTIONAL TERMS. The following terms relate to educational and
institutional uses
CHILD CARE CENTER: Staff members provide care for groups of children, often placed in
classrooms by age. As defined in M.G.L. c. 15D, s. 1A
HOSPITAL: An institution providing primary health services and medical or surgical care to
persons, primarily inpatients, suffering from illness, disease, injury, deformity and other physical
or mental conditions and including, as an integral part of the institution, related facilities, such as
laboratories, outpatient facilities, training facilities, medical offices and staff residences.
NURSING HOME or CARE FACILITY: Any institution, whether conducted for charity or profit,
which is advertised, announced or maintained for the express or implied purpose of providing
three or more individuals admitted thereto with long or short-term: resident, nursing,
convalescent, or rehabilitative care; supervision and care for ambulatory persons; or retirement
home care for elderly persons. Long-term care facility shall include convalescent or nursing
homes, rest homes, infirmaries, and sanitariums.
LIBRARY: A collection of resources in a variety of formats that is organized by information
professionals or other experts who provide convenient physical, digital, bibliographic, or
intellectual access and offer targeted services and programs with the mission of educating,
informing, or entertaining a variety of audiences and the goal of stimulating individual learning
and advancing society as a whole.
MUSEUM: a public or quasi-public facilities, including aquariums, arboretums, art galleries and
exhibitions, botanical gardens, historic sites and exhibits, archive libraries, and planetariums,
with no retail sales activities other than artwork, an accessory gift/book shop, and/or accessory
food sales.
PRIVATE FOR-PROFIT EDUCATIONAL USE: accredited or nonaccredited educational facilities
owned and/or operated by a private company or business that usually does not receive state or
federal aid, and are often managed by investors and stakeholders.
PUBLIC OR PRIVATE NON-PROFIT EDUCATIONAL USE: educational facilities owned by a nonprofit organization that often receives state or federal aid.
RELIGIOUS USE: any use including services, meetings, education, and any other activities
conducted by or for a religious group or organization.
FAMILY: Any number of persons related to one another by blood, marriage, or adoption, all residing
together as a single integral housekeeping unit; or unrelated persons residing together as a single,
integral housekeeping unit.
FARM: Any parcel of land which is used primarily for the raising of agricultural products, livestock,
poultry and dairy products. It includes farm structures within the prescribed limits, and the storage
of equipment used, including above-ground tanks for farm vehicles and machinery. (See also,
FAST ORDER FOOD: Food which is primarily intended for immediate consumption; available upon a
short waiting time; packaged or presented in such a manner that it can be readily eaten outside the
premises where it is sold.
FLOODPLAIN RELATED TERMS – The following terms apply to floodplains
DEVELOPMENT: Any man-made change to improved or unimproved real estate, including but
not limited to building or other structures, mining, dredging, filling, grading, paving, excavation
or drilling operations or storage of equipment or materials.
FLOODWAY: The channel of the river, creek or other watercourse and the adjacent land areas
that must be reserved in order to discharge the base flood without cumulatively increasing the
water surface elevation more than a designated height.
FUNCTIONALLY DEPENDENT USE: A use which cannot perform its intended purpose unless it
is located or carried out in close proximity to water. The term includes only docking facilities,
port facilities that are necessary for the loading and unloading of cargo or passengers, and ship
building and ship repair facilities, but does not include long-term storage or related
manufacturing facilities.
HIGHEST ADJACENT GRADE: The highest natural elevation of the ground surface prior to
construction next to the proposed walls of a structure.
HISTORIC STRUCTURE: Any structure that is:
(a) Listed individually in the National Register of Historic Places (a listing maintained by the
Department of Interior) or preliminarily determined by the Secretary of the Interior as meeting
the requirements for individual listing on the National Register;
(b) Certified or preliminarily determined by the Secretary of the Interior as contributing to the
historical significance of a registered historic district or a district preliminarily determined by
the Secretary to qualify as a registered historic district;
(c) Individually listed on a state inventory of historic places in states with historic preservation
programs which have been approved by the Secretary of the Interior; or
(d) Individually listed on a local inventory of historic places in communities with historic
preservation programs that have been certified either:
(1) By an approved state program as determined by the Secretary of the Interior or
(2) Directly by the Secretary of the Interior in states without approved programs
NEW CONSTRUCTION: Structures for which the start of construction commenced on or after the
effective date of the first floodplain management code, regulation, ordinance, or standard
adopted by the authority having jurisdiction, including any subsequent improvements to such
structures. New construction includes work determined to be substantial improvement.
RECREATIONAL VEHICLE: A vehicle which is:
(a) Built on a single chassis;
(b) 400 square feet or less when measured at the largest horizontal projection;
(c) Designed to be self-propelled or permanently towable by a light duty truck; and
(d) Designed primarily not for use as a permanent dwelling but as temporary living quarters for
recreational, camping, travel, or seasonal use
SPECIAL FLOOD HAZARD AREA: The land area subject to flood hazards and shown on a Flood
Insurance Rate Map or other flood hazard map as Zone A, AE, A1-30, A99, AR, AO, AH, V, VO, VE
or V1-30.
START OF CONSTRUCTION: The date of issuance for new construction and substantial
improvements to existing structures, provided the actual start of construction, repair,
reconstruction, rehabilitation, addition, placement or other improvement is within 180 days
after the date of issuance. The actual start of construction means the first placement of
permanent construction of a building (including a manufactured home) on a site, such as the
pouring of a slab or footings, installation of pilings or construction of columns. Permanent
construction does not include land preparation (such as clearing, excavation, grading or filling),
the installation of streets or walkways, excavation for a basement, footings, piers or foundations,
the erection of temporary forms or the installation of accessory buildings such as garages or
sheds not occupied as dwelling units or not part of the main building. For a substantial
improvement, the actual “start of construction” means the first alteration of any wall, ceiling,
floor or other structural part of a building, whether or not that alteration affects the external
dimensions of the building.
STRUCTURE: For floodplain management purposes, a walled and roofed building, including a
gas or liquid storage tank, that is principally above ground, as well as a manufactured home.
SUBSTANTIAL REPAIR OF A FOUNDATION: When work to repair or replace a foundation results
in the repair or replacement of a portion of the foundation with a perimeter along the base of
the foundation that equals or exceeds 50% of the perimeter of the base of the foundation
measured in linear feet, or repair or replacement of 50% of the piles, columns or piers of a pile,
column or pier supported foundation, the building official shall determine it to be substantial
repair of a foundation. Applications determined by the building official to constitute substantial
repair of a foundation shall require all existing portions of the entire building or structure to
meet the requirements of 780 CMR. [As amended by MA in 9th Edition BC]
VARIANCE: A grant of relief by a community from the terms of a flood plain management
VIOLATION: The failure of a structure or other development to be fully compliant with the
community's flood plain management regulations. A structure or other development without
the elevation certificate, other certifications, or other evidence of compliance required in §60.3
is presumed to be in violation until such time as that documentation is provided.
FLOOR AREA, GROSS: The sum of the areas of the several floors of a building, including areas used
for human occupancy in basements, attics and penthouses as measured about the exterior face of the
exterior walls.
FLOOR AREA, NET: The interior floor area of a dwelling unit exclusive of basements, stairwells, halls,
bathrooms, corridors, attics, walls, partitions and attached accessory buildings.
FRONTAGE STREET: A street which provides the required lot frontage for a building. When a lot is
bounded by more than one street, any one of them but only one, may be designated as the frontage
street by the owner, provided that the street meets the frontage requirement and that the principal
permitted building on the lot is numbered on such frontage street. However, in the case of a lot
bounded by two streets forming an interior angle of more than 135 degrees, their combined frontage
between lot lines may be used to satisfy the lot frontage requirement.
structurally mounted on the ground and is not roof-mounted and has a minimum output of electric
power of 250 Kilowatts, direct current.
GROUP HOME: A premise licensed by or operated by an agency of the Commonwealth of
Massachusetts or subdivision thereof as a special residence for people with disabilities.
HOME OCCUPATION: Any activity conducted as a residential accessory use by a resident within the
dwelling for financial gain. A home occupation is incidental to, and clearly subordinate to, the
residential use of the property.
HOTEL: A building intended and designed primarily for transient or overnight occupancy, divided
into separate units within the same building, with or without public dining facilities, with access to
units primarily from interior lobbies, courts, or halls. (See also, MOTEL)
KENNEL (Commercial): an establishment used for boarding, holding, day care, overnight stays or
training of dogs that are not the property of the owner of the establishment, at which such services
are rendered in exchange for consideration and in the absence of the owner of any such dog, an
establishment engaged in the business of breeding animals for sale or exchange to wholesalers,
brokers, or pet shops in return for consideration; however, kennel shall not include an animal shelter
or animal control facility, a pet shop licensed under section M.G.L. chapter 129 s 39A, a grooming
facility operated solely for the purpose of grooming and not for overnight boarding, or an individual
who temporarily and not in the normal course of business, boards or cares for animals owned by
LOADING SPACE, OFF-STREET: An off-street space or berth, on the same lot with a building, for the
temporary parking of vehicles while loading or unloading merchandise or material, which has access
to a street, alley or other appropriate means of ingress and egress.
LOT-RELATED TERMS. The following terms apply to the regulation of lots.
LOT: A single tract of land held in single ownership throughout and which is bounded by streets,
ponds, waterways, or by land of other owners.
LOT DEPTH: The mean distance from a street line of the lot to its opposite rear line, measured in
the mean general direction of the side lines of the lot. The "width of a lot" is its mean width
measured at right angles to its depth.
LOT FRONTAGE: The continuous portion of the line separating a lot from a street to which the
owner of the lot can provide the physical access to a principal building on the lot, in compliance
with applicable bylaws, regulations or laws, for motor vehicles to reach required off-street parking
spaces or loading bays, and for emergency services such as fire protection or ambulance service,
and for other vehicles to gain access to the principal building for deliveries, such as mail.
LOT LINE, REAR: The lot line opposite to the street line or in the case of a corner lot the rear lot
line may be elected by the owner.
LOT, CORNER: A lot at the junction of and fronting on two or more intersecting streets 20 feet or
more in width. A lot having frontage on two or more streets shall have two or more front yards,
each of which shall comply with the requirements of the front yard provisions. In no case shall any
building or structure be located closer to the sideline of a street than the minimum required front
YARD, FRONT: A space across the full width of the lot and extending from the street line of such
lot to that point on the building nearest to such street line.
YARD, REAR: A space across the full width of the lot and extending from the rear lot line to that
point on the building nearest to such rear lot line. In the case of a triangular lot with only one side
fronting on a street, the rear yard shall be the open unoccupied space between the rear wall of the
building and a line half -way between such rear wall and the point of intersection of the side lines
of the lot.
YARD, SIDE: A space extending from the front yard to the rear yard between a building and the
adjacent side line of the lot on which the building is located.
MANUFACTURING: The mechanical or chemical transformation of materials or substances into new
products, including the assembling of component parts, the manufacturing of products, and the
blending of materials, such as lubricating oils, plastics, resins, or liquors.
MIXED-USE BUILDING: A building or group of buildings under one or single ownership which
contains dwellings located above the ground floor of an institutional, civic, office, commercial, or
retail use.
MOBILE HOME: Any structure with wheels or designed for the attachment of wheels built on a
chassis, enabling it to be conveyed upon the public streets or highways, and is duly licensable as a
vehicle, designed and constructed in such manner as will permit occupancy thereof as a dwelling or
a sleeping place for one or more persons and is equipped with bath facilities, flush toilet and designed
to be connected to a water supply and to a sewage disposal system, whether resting on wheels, jacks
or other foundations.
MOTEL: A building intended and designed primarily for transient or overnight occupancy, divided
into separate units within the same building, with or without public dining facilities, and
characterized by direct access to every unit from an automobile, parking spaces or facility. (See also,
NON-CONFORMING USE OR STRUCTURE: A lawfully existing use or structure which does not
conform to the provisions of this Bylaw.
OPEN LAND: Any space on a lot not occupied by a building.
PARKING AREA: Any open space used for parking motor vehicles exclusively, and in which no
gasoline or fuel or motor vehicle accessories are sold or no other business is conducted.
PREMISES: That portion of a lot, structure or building actually in use for the specific purpose or use
under consideration.
PROFESSIONAL OR BUSINESS OFFICE: A building or part thereof for the transaction of business or
the provision of services exclusive of the receipt, sale, storage, or processing of merchandise,
including, but not limited to, offices of banks and financial institutions, medical offices, medical
clinics, and others.
RESTAURANT: A place where the primary function is the serving of food and beverages.
ROOMING HOUSE: An owner-occupied dwelling providing rooms for rent to not more than four
unrelated people paying rent on a weekly or monthly basis, with shared cooking, eating, and
sanitation facilities and adequate means of emergency egress as determined by the Zoning
Enforcement Officer and subject to annual licensure by the Town Council.
SAFE/SOBER HOUSE: A single-family dwelling, certified by the National Alliance for Recovery
Residences, Massachusetts Alliance of Sober Houses, or other recognized professional organization,
providing temporary accommodations to individuals recovering from substance abuse and
SENIOR HOUSING. The following uses are associated with senior residential development.
ASSISTED LIVING RESIDENCE: An assisted living residence is a long-term senior residential
facility that provides personal care support services such as meals, medication management,
bathing, dressing, and transportation, principally for people age 55 years and over, and certified
by the Massachusetts Office of Elder Affairs.
CONTINUING CARE RETIREMENT COMMUNITY: A Senior Residential Development that provides
a continuum of senior housing and care services principally for people age 55 years and over,
operated or sponsored as a coordinated unit by a corporation or organization, having among its
principal purposes the provision of housing and associated services for senior citizens. A CCRC
shall include a variety of housing types and may also include semi-institutional facilities such as
skilled nursing care or a rehabilitation facility.
INDEPENDENT LIVING UNITS: Multifamily buildings in a Senior Residential Development that
are designed and intended for occupancy principally by people age 55 years and over, with units
that include some basic services such as meals, housekeeping, grounds maintenance, security,
and common areas and common facilities for events and activities benefiting residents of the
SHOPPING CENTER: A group of retail and other commercial tenants that is planned, owned, and
managed as a single property, with on-site parking for patrons of the tenant establishments.
SIGN TERMS. The following terms apply to the regulation of signs.
BANNER SIGN: Signs made of cloth, fabric, paper, non-rigid plastic or similar types of material;
national flags, flags of political subdivisions and symbolic flags of an institution or a business are
CONSTRUCTION SIGN: A temporary sign erected on the premises on which construction is taking
place, during the period of such construction, indicating the names of the architects, engineers,
landscape architect, contractors or similar artisans, and the owners, financial supporters,
sponsors, and similar individuals or firms having a role or interest with respect to the structure
of project.
ELECTRONIC MESSAGE CENTER: Means any sign on which the characters, letters or illustrations
can be changed automatically or through electronic or mechanical means. Electronic Message
Centers include time and temperature signs.
FREESTANDING SIGN: A sign attached to the ground and supported by uprights placed on or in
the ground.
SIGN AREA: The area defined by the frame or edge of a sign; however, where there is no geometric
frame or edge of the sign, the area shall be defined by a projected, enclosed, rectilinear shape
which most closely outlines the said sign. Sign area includes the advertising surface and any
framing, trim or molding, but not the supporting structure.
SIGN HEIGHT: The vertical distance from the grade below the sign to the uppermost module,
cabinet or character.
POLITICAL SIGN. A temporary sign which advertises a candidate or candidates for public elective
office, a political party, or which promotes a position on a public or ballot issue.
REAL ESTATE SIGN. A temporary sign which advertises the real estate on which it is located for
rent, lease, or sale.
SHOPPING CENTER SIGN. A pylon type sign announcing the shopping center itself, and shall be a
maximum of twenty (20) feet in height, and shall be appropriately landscaped.
SIGN: The term "sign" shall include outdoor structures for advertising, letters, words, models,
devices, symbols, revolving or flashing lights, trademarks, and shall include every kind of
structure that is arranged, designed or used as an outdoor advertisement, announcement or
STREET LINE: The "street line" is the dividing line between a street and a lot.
STREET, ROAD OR WAY: An area of land dedicated, approved by the Planning Board, or legally open
for public travel under at least one of the following classifications: A public way duly laid out by the
Town of Southbridge, the Worcester County Commissioners, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts,
or a way which the Southbridge Town Clerk certifies is maintained by public authority and used as a
public way excluding, however, limited access highway; or A way shown on a definitive plan
approved and endorsed in accordance with the Subdivision Control Laws; or A way in existence prior
to said Subdivision Control Law having become effective in the Town of Southbridge (March 11,
1940), having in the opinion of the Planning Board, sufficient width, suitable grades and adequate
construction to provide for the needs of vehicular traffic in relation to the proposed use of the land
abutting thereon or served thereby, and for the installation of municipal services to serve such land
and the building erected or to be erected thereon.
STRUCTURE: A combination of materials assembled at a fixed location to give support or shelter,
such as a building, framework, retaining wall, tent, reviewing stand, platform, bin, fence, sign,
flagpole, mast for radio antenna or the like. The word "structure" shall be construed, where the
context allows, as though followed by the words "or part or parts thereof".
USE: The purpose for which land or building is occupied, or maintained, arranged, designed or
ZONING ENFORCEMENT OFFICER: The Building Inspector unless otherwise designated by the Town

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