WHAT IS AN OVERLAY DISTRICT?

An overlay district is a district superimposed upon another district which supersedes, modifies or supple­ments the underlying regulations. Bolton currently has the Wireless Overlay District. The proposed Village Overlay District would be another.

The City of Rockville MD uses the analogy Imagine a blanket covering a couch.  The couch is still there but you also have the blanket too”.  

Overlay districts are used to accomplish a variety of development, transportation, and land use goals such as protection of historic or natural resources, safety, standardization of a historic district, implementation of development guidelines, protection of the quality of surface water, and even special taxing or financing for an area. Overlay districts often complement a Town’s Master Plan.

If the Village Overlay is approved at Town Meeting it is not an automatic guarantee for a applicant. The applicant would still need to seek a Special Permit from the Planning Board and go through Site Plan approval with the Board of Selectmen and Design Review by the Design Advisory Team. The application could be denied if the project doesn’t meet the criteria of the Special Permit. Some folks have asked why even create a village overlay? The answer to that question is that the village overlay provides more design flexibility. It allows for reduced parking numbers, reduced set backs, smaller buildings, and multiple buildings. In some cases the underlying zoning does make sense. If we use Bolton Office Park as an example it makes more sense to have one large building set back at 150’. This would be a case where the village overlay zoning would not be utilized but rather the underlying zoning. Keep in mind that a project doesn’t have to use all the features within the village overlay. If a project makes more sense to have a 150’ set back but multiple smaller buildings the village overlay would allow this flexibility.

Stow Ma – Village Overlay allowed mixed Use (residential & business) and reduced set backs

Bolton Office Park – One large building with large front yard set back

How does the underlying zoning and the proposed Bolton Village Overlay District compare: Town Meeting is tonight Monday,  May 7th, 2012 at 7:00pm. Article 17 creates the Village Overlay District and 18-23 amends the bylaws as it relates to the Village Overlay. It is expected that this article will be late in the evening.

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About Southborough Town Planner

I am the Town Planner for the Town of Southborough MA
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