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  • Stephanie Boyd

Let's get smaller, Article 24

The Planning Board is bringing a few proposals (Articles 20-24) to Town Meeting in May that are designed to help encourage opportunities for housing. The goals of the proposals are to find opportunities that may:

  • reduce the cost,

  • support a variety of housing types, or

  • free up land for housing development.

One way to find more land for housing growth is to reduce the size of lots, so that more houses can fit on smaller amounts of land. While this lot frontage proposal is important, it is not expected to change the look and feel of our community if adopted.

The Board is asking us to consider reducing the frontage requirement(the length of a lot that borders a street) in General Residence (GR) zone from 100 ft to 66 ft. (There is map at the bottom of this post showing GR).

All of the other zoning requirements (lot sizes, setbacks, etc.) would remain unchanged, as shown on the Dimensional Schedule for GR. The change would apply only to the GR zoning district (the “in town” parts of Williamstown).

The building setbacks from side (15 ft) and rear (15ft) and front (30) property lines of the lot and lot area (10,000 sq.ft) would remain the same, as shown in the Dimensional Schedule.

What is the impact?

There are about 1574 lots in General Residence Zone, see table below. While our current zoning requires a 100 ft frontage, 40% (482+153) of existing lots have less than 100 ft. frontage.

Reducing the frontage requirements would result in 258 lots (16%) becoming eligible for subdividing.

It is important to note, that currently 365 lots (23%) can already be subdivided - they are wider than 200 ft and larger than 20,000 sq. ft. in area. Not all lots that can be subdivided are!

Lots that have between 132ft and 200 ft frontage and a lot area, 2 times the minimum (20,000 sq. ft.) could add a buildable lot to our inventory. Several factors will affect whether additional building lots become available:

  1. Economics -if the current house or other structure is in the center of the lot, the cost to subdivide may be prohibitive

  2. Geographic features - streams, wetlands, steep slopes may decrease the feasibility of subdivision.

  3. Property owner preference - the property owner may simply not wish to subdivide the property

Lots that could be subdivided are found in most neighborhoods in Williamstown. See the blue flags.

Given the experience in other towns and cities we can expect only a few lots to become available for building.

The Planning Board and the Select Board voted unanimously to adopt these articles.

For more information about this Warrant Article, see Planning Board's FAQ



This map shows the General Residence district in yellow. Note the denser lots in the Cole Avenue/Main St. area. These lots (and many others) were developed prior to current zoning regulations.

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