The ink is drying on the final version of a Chilmark bylaw to regulate house size that is now set for a vote at the annual town meeting in April.
The planning board ratified a final version of the bylaw on Monday. Town counsel Ronald H. Rappaport will review the language in the coming weeks.
If it is approved, the bylaw, which creates a ratio of building size to land area, will require a special permit from the zoning board of appeals for new building projects over 3,500 square feet. Home size would be capped at 6,000 square feet per three-acre lot, the minimum zoning in Chilmark. The square footage is calculated by gross living area and includes all finished structures on the property. The board had previously considered a 4,000-square-foot threshold, a number that drew mixed reactions at a public hearing last month. Substandard lots would also be regulated by the bylaw. For one-acre lots, for example, the special permit process would begin at 3,000 square feet. Homeowners would be allowed an additional 250 square feet per additional acre. Existing homeowners whose living area exceeds the threshold would be allowed a one-time exception to increase the home size by five per cent.
The board also modified a proposed definition for a detached bedroom. If approved, homeowners would be allowed one 400-square-foot detached bedroom. No definition on detached bedrooms exists in the current zoning bylaw.
The bylaw establishes a list of checks and balances for the zoning board to consider, including impact of the project to existing rural character, landscaping, natural buffer areas and lighting.
The board closed the comment period after last month’s public hearing, but the written comment period remained open until Monday afternoon. The board received 17 letters of comment on the bylaw, nearly all in favor of regulating house size. The next step will be for voters to decide. “This has been unbelievable. We’ve done good, guys,” planning board chairman Janet Weidner said Monday.