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Site Plan Review
Site plan review of certain residential and non-residential developments.
No Special Permit, Variance or Building Permit for construction, exterior alteration, relocation, or change in use, except where noted, shall be granted for any use requiring Site Plan Review under § 5.01: Table of Use Regulations until the provisions of this section have been fulfilled and an application is approved by the Special Permit Granting Authority. Uses for which Site Plan Review is required are designated by an SR ("Site Plan Review") or SP/SR ("Special Permit with Site Plan Review" in § 5.01: Table of Use Regulations. Site Plan Review shall be used to judge the appropriateness and impacts of the site development characteristics of a proposed development. All proposed developments subject to this section shall conform with all appropriate provisions of this Zoning Ordinance.
(a) A Petitioner using the Site Plan Review checklist available in the Department of Community Development & Planning (DCDP), shall complete packets, to be included as part of the preliminary and formal application, which include all necessary plans and a statement responding to the Site Plan Review standards set forth in subsection (c) below. Complete packets for the preliminary meeting will be hand delivered prior to the submission deadline, with three copies of the preliminary site plan packet for the proposed development submitted to the DCDP; and, one copy each submitted to Conservation and Preservation Agent, Inspector of Buildings, Zoning Enforcement Officer, Superintendent of Public Works, Chief Fire Inspector, Chief of Police, Health Department, Commission on Disabilities, Bicycle and Pedestrian Committee, Watertown Affordable Housing Trust, Assessor's Department, and, when appropriate, other entities as identified by the Director of DCDP.

Unless waived by the Director of Community Development & Planning because of development scale, said site plan shall be at a scale of 1"=10' or 1"=20'. Vertical scale shall be at 1/8"=1' or 1/4"=1'. Said site plan shall show, among other things, all existing and proposed building structures, existing and proposed grades, automobile and bicycle parking spaces, driveway openings, service areas, open space and other uses, site engineering and all facilities for water, drainage, sewage, refuse, and landscape features (such as fences, walls, planting areas, type, size and location of planting materials, methods to be employed for screening, and walks), fire suppression and access detail, preliminary traffic counts and assessment, schematic elevations at the above scales, the location of any wetlands within 150 feet, other information as required in § 155-9.01(b).

Development in the NB, LB, CB, I-1, I-2, I-3, RMUD, and PSCD Districts greater than or equal to 10,000 gross square feet or containing 10 or more residential units shall complete a Solar Energy System Assessment, as required under Section 8.05. The Petitioner shall indicate, in writing, what actions/outcomes will be taken with a copy of the assessment, to DCDP.

(b) The Planning Board shall hold a hearing on the proposal to examine the standards set forth in subsection (c) below as part of the formal application process. Prior to said hearing, a Preliminary Developer's Conference shall be held with representatives of the developer and City Departments and Committees listed in subsection (a) above, to determine and discuss questions, impacts, potential problems, etc., with said site plan, and to provide guidance to the developers in completing the formal application and site plan submission. Each department shall submit an analysis of the formal application and site plan to the Director of DCDP within 30 days.

For projects with four or greater residential units, or for non-residential projects with 10,000 square feet of new development or greater, the Petitioner will conduct a public information meeting no less than 10 days prior to submission for Planning Board or Zoning Board of Appeals approval. The meeting will provide an opportunity for the public to understand and comment on the specifics of the project, the details of such project shall be made available to the public, through submission to the Department of Community Development & Planning, no less than 14 days prior to the public information meeting. The Petitioner shall coordinate planning this meeting with the Department of Community Development & Planning and the City Councilor who represents the district where the project would be built. The meeting shall be announced by the Petitioner no less than two weeks prior to the meeting. The required advertising by the Petitioner shall include a notice distributed to abutters and abutters to abutters within 300' of the site. Upon confirmation of the meeting time and place with the Department of Community Development and Planning, said Department will also announce the meeting by posting an announcement on the City website, with the City Council and using the City Email notification system. Within one week of the meeting, the Petitioner shall submit a summary of what was discussed at the meeting to the Department of Community Development & Planning. At the discretion of the Director of Community Development & Planning, a second public information meeting may be required in instances of large projects with a community impact, or a project with circumstances that would necessitate a second meeting.

No application shall be complete, shall be accepted by the Director of DCDP, nor be submitted to the Planning Board for consideration unless and until all information specified in § 9.03(a) is submitted in a form deemed to be sufficient and complete by the Director of DCDP, and until reports on the application are received from all relevant City Departments and Committees as defined in subsection (a) above; provided, however, that if a department fails to provide such analysis within said 15 day period, the DCDP's review shall proceed without the report of such department, and the Director of DCDP may determine such application to be complete notwithstanding the failure of such department to submit its report. Said reports shall be incorporated into the submission to the Planning Board.

(c) The Planning Board shall review the formal application and site plan and then prepare a written report on the proposal considering, among other things, the ten criteria listed below. When a proposal requires a Variance or Special Permit with Site Plan Review in accordance with § 5.01: Table of Use Regulations and the Board of Appeals is the SPGA, this report of the Planning Board shall be submitted to the Board of Appeals in accordance with the provisions set forth below. The Board of Appeals shall not grant the Special Permit or Variance until this report has been submitted. When a proposal requires a Special Permit with Site Plan Review and the Planning Board is the SPGA or when a proposal only requires Site Plan Review in accordance with § 5.01: Table of Use Regulations, the Planning Board shall make a final determination as to whether that proposal sufficiently meets the criteria listed below and whether the proposal shall be approved. Revisions to any site plan must be approved in the same manner as the original plan.
1. Landscape: The landscape shall be preserved in its natural state, insofar as practicable, by minimizing tree and soil removal, and any grade changes shall be in keeping with the general appearance of neighboring developed areas. Adequate landscaping shall also be provided, including screening of adjacent residential uses, provision of street trees, landscape islands in the parking lot and a landscape buffer along the street frontage.

2. Relation of Buildings to Environment: Proposed development shall be integrated into the terrain and the use, scale and architecture of existing buildings in the vicinity and shall be in accordance with the Comprehensive Plan or other plans adopted by the City guiding future development. The Planning Board may require a modification in massing so as to reduce the effect of shadows on abutting property in all districts or on public open space.

3. Open Space: All open space required by this Zoning Ordinance shall be so designed as to maximize its visibility for persons passing the site, encourage social interaction, maximize its utility, and facilitate its maintenance.

4. Circulation: Special attention shall be given to traffic circulation, parking areas and access points to public streets and community facilities in order to maximize convenience and safety of vehicular, bicycle and pedestrian movement within the site and in relation to adjacent streets. Special consideration shall be given to infrastructure and design that will enhance public transit, such as bus shelters, on-site transportation demand management measures, and participation in a Transit Management Association.

5. Surface Water Drainage: Special attention shall be given to proper site surface drainage so that removal of surface waters will not adversely affect neighboring properties or the public storm drainage system. Proposed developments shall seek to retain storm water runoff on site to the maximum extent possible, incorporating best practices in storm water management and Low Impact Design techniques. In cases where storm water cannot be retained on site, storm water shall be removed from all roofs, canopies and paved areas and carried away in an underground drainage system.

6. Utility Service: Electric, telephone, cable TV and other such lines and equipment shall be underground. The proposed method of sanitary sewage disposal and solid waste disposal from all buildings shall be indicated.

7. Environmental Sustainability: Proposed developments shall seek to diminish the heat island effect; employ passive solar techniques and design to maximize southern exposures, building materials, and shading; utilize energy-efficient technology and renewable energy resources; and minimize water use.

All new developments requiring Site Plan Review in the NB, LB, CB, I-1, I-2, I-3, RMUD, and PSCD Districts must meet LEED Silver Certifiable requirements as outlined by the United States Green Building Council's Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (current edition as applicable) as a minimum. Design documentation shall be provided by the Petitioner to the City to verify that the project could achieve the minimum number of LEED points to achieve certification. Such documentation may include but not be limited to a project narrative describing how the project design intends to achieve selected LEED credits, and a LEED checklist with criteria (or points) which shows the project will achieve a minimum of 50 points.

8. Screening: Screening, such as screen plantings, shall be provided for exposed storage areas, exposed machinery installations, service areas, truck loading areas, utility buildings and structures, and similar accessory areas and structures in order to prevent their being incongruous with the existing or contemplated environment and the surrounding properties.

9. Safety: With respect to personal safety, all open and enclosed spaces shall be designed to facilitate building evacuation and maximize accessibility by fire, police, and other emergency personnel and equipment.

10. Design: Proposed developments shall seek to protect abutting properties from detrimental site characteristics resulting from the proposed use, including but not limited to air and water pollution, noise, odor, heat, flood, dust vibration, lights or visually offensive structures or site features.
(d) Design Guidelines.
1. For projects with between four and nine residential units, and for any non-residential or Mixed-Use project between 4,000 square feet and up and up to 10,000 square feet, Watertown's adopted Design Guidelines will be considered as part of the Site Plan Review/Special Permit review.

2. For projects with 10 or greater residential units, or for non-residential projects with 10,000 square feet of new development or greater, or any Mixed-Use project, the Petitioner's/Developer's proposed project shall be subject to a formal consultant design review according to Watertown's adopted Design Guidelines.
Prior to submittal for Board review, any project as defined in this subsection shall undergo a formal design review subject to Watertown's most current adopted Design Guidelines. The review will be conducted with representatives of the Petitioner/Developer, the DCDP staff, and Watertown's Design Consultant to determine and discuss the proposed project's conformance to the most current adopted Design Guidelines.

Within 14 calendar days of the design review, Watertown's Design Consultant will submit to the Director of DCDP or his/her designee a written report analyzing the proposed project's conformance with Watertown's most current adopted Design Guidelines.

The Petitioner/Developer may, in consultation with the Director of DCDP, have his/her proposed project undergo a second design review with the City of Watertown's Design Consultant after completion of the required public information session noted above.

Petitioners/developers for projects subject to review under Watertown's most current adopted Design Guidelines shall, in accordance with Chapter 44 of the Massachusetts General Laws, Section 53(G) and in accordance with § 5.2 of the Zoning Board of Appeals Rules of Practice, be required to make payment to Watertown's Design Review Fund to compensate the Design Consultant. The base payment into the Design Review Fund shall be a not to exceed amount of $10,000 as determined by the Director of DCDP. Funds collected in the Design Review Fund shall be used to pay for the services of Watertown's Design Consultant for the Petitioner's/developer's proposed project. Any funds not expended for this purpose at the conclusion of Watertown's review of the proposed project shall be returned to the Petitioner/Developer.

See Permits, Licensing, and Applications for detailed information.