By BRIDGET TURCOTTE
NAHANT — The Planning Board will discuss whether the town should set guidelines for incoming religious and educational developments at a public hearing tonight at Town Hall.
The panel will make a recommendation for if Town Meeting should add a new section to the zoning bylaws that would require a site plan review for the construction of buildings that would be used for religious and educational purposes.
“There are one or more state statutes that exempt religious and educational developments from local review,” said Richard Snyder, chairman of the Planning Board. “It’s often referred to as the so-called Dover Amendment. It was passed by the state so that cities and towns could not prevent educational and religious uses within town. That right allows them to override various provisions of local zoning laws.”
While local municipalities cannot prevent the organizations from coming to town, they can ask the developers to work with them on a plan.
“This zoning ordinance is intended to provide that the town can play a role in any such development and hopefully influence its nature for the benefit of the town,” Snyder said. “What we try to do is tailor what we want done to make it consistent with the way our town looks. Our zoning bylaw prevents most buildings from being greater than 2.5 stories high. We’re trying to keep it consistent so the landscape is not disturbed.”
The other hearing will require a recommendation on whether Town Meeting should amend the storm-water bylaws voted two years ago. The bylaw was intended to minimize soil erosion during construction and development by requiring that construction projects mitigate runoff.
In August 2015, the attorney general struck down three sections of the bylaws because they did not correctly identify how to assess and enforce fines and penalties, Snyder said. The revised version includes a fee up to $100 for each day that a criminal violation occurs. Non-criminal fines are proposed to be $25 for the first violation, $50 for the second and $100 for the third.
“Town Meeting passed it and in the course of a review by the attorney general, certain technical aspects of the law were found incomplete and we were asked to correct them and that’s what this seeks to do,” said Snyder.
The revision was drafted on advice from Town Counsel, he said.
Bridget Turcotte can be reached at email@example.com. Follow her on Twitter @BridgetTurcotte.