A Chilmark zoning bylaw regulating house size is now official after the town received approval from the state attorney general’s office this week. Kelli Gunagan, assistant attorney general and bylaw coordinator, informed the town in a July 9 letter that the state approved the zoning amendments passed at the annual town meeting in April.
“Based upon our review of the text of [the bylaw], the relevant case law, and all the materials submitted to our office, we conclude that Section 6.11 is not clearly inconsistent with [Massachusetts general law],” Ms. Gunagan wrote in a July 9 letter. Section 6.11 is the amended section of the town zoning bylaws.
Voters overwhelmingly approved the bylaw this spring following 15 months of planning. The bylaw requires a special permit from the zoning board of appeals for new construction more than 3,500 square feet on three acres, and limits total living area to 6,000 square feet. An additional 250 square feet are allowed per additional acre. Existing homes are given a one-time exemption to increase the total living area by five per cent. The bylaw also includes definitions for detached bedrooms.
In its approval, the state noted that towns are prohibited from regulating or restricting the interior area of a single family home, “however single-family residences may be subject to reasonable regulations pertaining to bulk and height of structures, yard size, lot area, setbacks open space, parking and building coverage requirements.”
“Section 6.11’s total living area limit seemingly regulates the bulk of buildings and lot coverage and only incidentally affects the interior area of a single-family residence,” Ms. Gunagan wrote. “For this reason we approve Section 6.11.”