4.1 WBR – Waterfront Business Residence District

4.1.A Purpose & Objectives

The Waterfront Business Residence District as delineated on the Zoning Map is intended to encourage a mixture of land uses that will enhance the unique qualities of the Thames Street area with emphasis on waterfront access and water-dependent and related uses and retention of the historic character and scale of the "Groton Bank." The overall intent is to promote and enhance this area as a walkable, pedestrian-friendly area with a variety of uses on sites and in buildings contributing to a vibrant village atmosphere. Due to the unique characteristics if this area and the varying property configurations, the Regulations are intended to allow for flexibility in a number of regulatory standards provided that the development objectives and design guidelines are achieved.

  • Development within the Waterfront Business Residence District shall be consistent with the following objectives:
  • 1Public access to the Thames River is a major consideration in the Waterfront Business Residence District and establishment / extension of a continuous riverfront walkway is encouraged as is establishment of boat slips.
  • Preservation and creation of views from public access to the riverfront strongly is encouraged.
  • Maintenance of the character and ambience of the area is strongly encouraged. Rehabilitation of structures, where feasible, is encouraged to preserve and enhance the historic and diverse qualities of the Thames Street area.
  • Water-dependent uses are specifically encouraged to locate along the river as primary uses or in combination with other permitted uses.
  • Development within the Waterfront Business Residence District shall be consistent with the City of Groton Plan of Conservation and Development and the Thames Street Study as adopted by the Planning and Zoning Commission.

4.1.B Village District Declared

In accordance with CGS Section 8-2j and as recommended in the 2008 Plan of Conservation and Development, the Waterfront Business Residence District is hereby declared to be a "village district" in order to protect the distinctive character, landscape and historic structures within the district.

4.1.C Principal Uses Permitted By Site Plan Approval (Commission or City Planner)

  • Any use permitted by Site Plan approval (Commission) in the R-5.2 Residence Zone subject to the same restrictions and controls of the R-5.2 Residence Zone.
  • Retail businesses as defined in these Regulations.
  • Restaurants and eating establishments including on-premises drinking of alcoholic beverages when accessory to an eating establishment.
  • Business services.
  • Business and professional offices.
  • Personal service establishments as defined in these Regulations.
  • Dry cleaning and laundry pickup stations where the processing is done elsewhere.
  • Repair services as defined in these Regulations but specifically excluding boat repair, marine repair, machinery repair, outside repair, and the like.
  • Retail sale or rental of boating, fishing, diving, and bathing supplies and equipment provided that any outside storage or display of products or equipment is expressly approved by the Commission.
  • A sail loft or ships chandlery.
  • Telecommunication facilities, subject to the requirements of Section 6.12 of these Regulations.
  • Artist's studios and galleries.
  • Mixed use building(s) containing a combination of dwelling units and permitted businesses and service uses provided that, in a mixed-use building fronting on a public street, dwelling units shall be limited to areas above the first floor.

4.1.D Principal Uses Permitted By Special Permit Approval & Site Plan Approval (Commission)

  • Any use permitted by Special Permit Approval and Site Plan Approval (Commission) in the R-5.2 Residence Zone subject to the same restrictions and controls of the R-5.2 Residence Zone.
  • Hotels and motels on lots having a minimum area of 20,000 square feet and a minimum width of 100 feet.
  • Bed and breakfast establishments, subject to the requirements of Section 6.5 of these Regulations.
  • Mortuary and funeral homes.
  • Multi-family dwellings subject to the requirements of Section 6.1 of these Regulations.
  • Yacht clubs and marinas.
  • Boat docks, slips, piers and wharves for yachts and pleasure boats or for boats for hire carrying passengers on excursions, pleasure, or fishing trips, or for vessels engaged in fishery or shell fishery.
  • Dockside facilities for dispensing fuel, restroom and laundry facilities to serve overnight patrons.
  • Boat and marine engine sales and display provided that any outside storage or display of products or equipment is expressly approved by the Commission.
  • The rental of boats provided that the location of any outside storage is expressly approved by the Commission.
  • Museums with nautical themes.
  • Public building or facility.
  • Principal or accessory buildings and facilities for the storage, distribution, and wholesale or retail sale of fresh seafood, subject to the following requirements:
    • The use shall be water dependent.
    • No outside storage or handling of seafood or waste products shall be permitted, other than delivery and loading.
    • No canning, drying or other type of industrial-type processing of seafood shall be permitted.
    • The use shall be an integral component of a commercial seafood operation, comprised of, but not necessarily limited to, seafood handling, commercial fishing, small marine/boat landing, and such other related and permitted uses.
    • A minimum lot size of 1 acre shall be required.

4.1.E Permitted Accessory Buildings, Structures & Uses

  • Accessory buildings and uses which are clearly subordinate and customarily incidental to and located on the same lot with the principal use, and that will not be hazardous to the public health, safety, and welfare.
  • Temporary outdoor events subject to approval by the City Planner and Police Department and provided that placement of merchandise or other objects does not obstruct the sidewalk, affect public safety, or unreasonably reduce parking.

4.1.F Additional Requirements

  • Permitted uses do not include drive-in establishments or uses with drive-in facilities.
  • A building may contain a combination of permitted uses, however; if one of the uses is residential, then such residential use is limited to areas above the first floor.
  • Any building to be converted, expanded, or modified shall be in (or improved to) an acceptable state of repair and modernization, including landscaping and paving.

4.1.G Dimensional Standards


WBR District
Minimum Lot Area4,000 square feet per lot or 5,000 square feet per dwelling unit, whichever is greater
Minimum Lot Width40 feet
Minimum Front Yard Setback10 feet or the average setback line observed by buildings on same side of street between two intersecting streets, whichever is less.
Minimum Side Yard SetbackNo requirement but there shall be a minimum side yard setback of 10 feet where:

The property is used for a residential use other than a mixed use building;

The property is used for a business use and abuts a single-family residential lot or a residential district.

Minimum Rear Yard SetbackThere shall be a minimum rear yard setback of 20 feet. New construction at the foundation line shall be at least 20 feet from the Thames River at mean high water level.
Maximum Building Coverage50%
Maximum Building Height25 feet

(May be modified as provided in Section 4.1.H.)

Maximum Building WidthThe total cumulative width of building, structure, fences, or walls more than 42 inches in height above the finished grade which are located adjacent to the Thames River shall not occupy more than 40% of the width of a parcel as measured along a line parallel to and 20 feet from the river

(May be modified as provided for in Section 4.1.H.)

Notes

  • Section 8.3 and Section 4.1.I of the Regulations may provide flexibility related to some of these dimensional standards

4.1.H Possible Modifications to Dimensional Standards

  • Building Height - The Commission may, by Special Permit, allow for an increase of maximum building height up to a maximum of 35 feet when doing so will help to achieve the purposes, objectives, and design considerations in the Waterfront Business Residence District.
  • Building Width - The Commission may, by Special Permit, allow for an increase of maximum building width when doing so will help to achieve the purposes, objectives, and design considerations in the Waterfront Business Residence District.

4.1.I Parking & Loading Requirements

Since the Waterfront Business Residence District is important to the city's character and because its physical integrity must be enhanced, and further because it is desirable to utilize existing buildings as fully and as efficiently as possible, parking for uses within the District may be provided as:

  • The Commission may, by Special Permit, reduce the parking requirements in Section 7.1 of these Regulations by up to 50% for uses within the Waterfront Business Residence District if the developer provides such spaces either:
    • On-street in locations deemed acceptable to the Commission; or
    • On the subject property in a configuration which makes such spaces available to the general public; or
    • On other property in the vicinity provided such spaces are:
      • Subject to a deed restriction binding the owner and his/her heirs and assigns to maintain the required number of spaces either (1) throughout the existence of the use to which they are accessory, or (2) until such spaces are provided elsewhere, and
      • Configured to make such spaces available to the general public.
  • If such spaces are reserved for a specific use or are not configured to make such spaces available to the general public, the Commission may allow the parking required by Section 7.1 of these Regulations to be provided either:
    • On the site which they serve; or
    • On other property in the vicinity provided that:
      • Said spaces are within 750 feet walking distance of the lot or use which they serve.
      • Such spaces shall be in the same ownership as the use which they serve or shall be subject to a deed restriction binding the owner and his/her heirs and assigns to maintain the required number of spaces either (1) throughout the existence of the use to which they are accessory, or (2) until such spaces are provided elsewhere.
  • Payment of a fee-in-lieu of parking to the City to be put into a dedicated fund for the creation of parking within the Thames Street area.
  • A combination of the .

4.1.J Design Considerations

As part of the review of any application in the Waterfront Business Residence District, the Commission shall consider:

  • The purposes of this Section;
  • The design considerations set forth in Section 8.4 of these Regulations, especially since the WBR District has been designated as a "village district" as authorized by CGS Section 8-2j;
  • Any design considerations set forth in the Special Permit review (Section 9.4) section of these Regulations;
  • Any design guidelines set forth in the Municipal Coastal Program adopted by the Commission; and
  • Additional considerations shall include:
    • The extent to which new buildings and additions or modifications to existing buildings are harmonious with the overall character of the district and the heritage of Groton Bank and its seaside New England presence in terms of scale, massing, articulation, and architectural features.
    • The extent to which views from adjacent public streets through the property to the water are protected or enhanced.
    • The extent to which the design of buildings as viewed from the water and the relationship of development to the waterfront enhances the overall area.
    • The extent to which public access to the river's edge, including new bulkheading or docking facilities, is provided or facilitated.
    • The extent to which the configuration of traffic circulation, parking, sidewalks, landscaping, signage, and other improvements contribute to the maintenance and enhancement of an attractive, inviting, and pedestrian-friendly area.