8. Special Provisions

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8.1  Frontage Required

 

1.   No use shall be permitted hereunder on any lot in the City of Groton, unless said lot has a minimum of 25 feet of street frontage and no building permit shall be issued for any building or structure unless the lot for which such permit is sought has a minimum frontage of 25 feet.

 

2.  Said minimum frontage of 25 feet must:

 a.  Be owned by the applicant in fee and rights-of-way, easements, and other areas not owned in fee by the applicant will not be accepted as frontage.

 b.  Be on a street accepted by the City of Groton or approved by the Planning and Zoning Commission under the Subdivision Regulations of the City of Groton.

 c.  Maintain the 25 feet width to the buildable area of the lot.

8.2  Dimensional Exceptions

 

8.2.A  Yard Setback Exceptions

1.  Open entries, steps, stoops, or porches, cantilevered roofs, eaves, cornices, chimneys, belt-courses, window sills, balconies, and similar architectural features may project into a required yard setback provided that such features shall not project more than 4 feet into any required yard setback or more than a distance equal to 20% of the required yard setback, whichever is less.

2.  Public utility equipment may be installed within a front yard setback provided it is installed in an underground vault or is screened to the satisfaction of the Zoning and Building Official or City Planner.

3.  Notwithstanding any other provision of these Regulations, a Zoning / Building Permit may be issued to allow construction of stairways and landings within a front yard setback, side yard setback, and/or rear yard setbacks when such construction is necessary in order to elevate an existing structure in a flood plain to meet FEMA requirements and the intrusion of such stairways and/or landings within the required yard setback is minimized.

 

8.2.B  Height Exceptions

1.  The height provisions of these Regulations shall not apply to the erection of church spires, belfries, towers designated exclusively for ornamental purposes, flagstaffs, chimneys, flues, or gas holders.

2.   The height provisions of these Regulations shall not apply to bulkheads, elevator enclosures, penthouses, water tanks, standpipes, or stage towers occupying in the aggregate less than 10% of the area of the roof on which they are located.

3.  Nothing in these Regulations shall prevent the erection of a parapet wall or a cornice extending not more than 3 feet above the height limit indicated.

4.  The height provisions of these Regulations shall not prevent the erection of a permitted public building or facility not exceeding 40 feet in a residence zone.

 

8.2.C  Second Principal Building on Same Lot

1.  No lot in any residential district, except for approved multi-family dwellings in groups, boat clubs, beach clubs and marinas, and bed and breakfast establishments, shall contain more than one principal building or structure.

2.  No building to be used as a dwelling shall be constructed, altered, or moved on, to, or in the rear of a building situated on the same lot, nor shall any building be constructed in front of, or moved to the front of a dwelling situated on the same lot.

8.3  Non-Conforming Uses, Structures and Lots

 

8.3.A  Non-Conforming Uses

1.  May Be Continued – Notwithstanding any other provision of these Regulations, a pre-existing non-conforming use may be continued, including through change of title or possession or right of possession of property, except as otherwise specified in this Section.

 

2.  Alteration Or Enlargement – A non-conforming use shall not be extended or enlarged and no structure containing a non-conforming use shall be structurally altered except:

 a.  To make it a conforming structure;

 b.  To comply with requirements of health and safety laws or ordinances; and/or

 c.  Subject to Special Permit approval and Site Plan approval by the Commission, to result in a situation with a lesser impact upon the surrounding area than the existing use.

 

3.  Relocation – A pre-existing non-conforming use may, subject to Special Permit approval and Site Plan approval by the Commission, be moved or relocated provided that such moving or relocation will:

 a.  Reduce or eliminate the non-conformity; or

 b.  Result, in the opinion of the Commission, in a situation with a lesser impact upon the surrounding area than the existing use.

 

4.  Change Of Use – The Commission may, subject to Special Permit approval and Site Plan approval, allow a change from a pre-existing non-conforming use to another non-conforming use provided that:

 a.  The proposed use is similar in intensity to the existing use or lower in intensity than the existing use; and

 b.  The proposed use will have a lesser impact upon the surrounding area than the existing use.

 

5.  Restoration – When a building, whether conforming or non-conforming, in which there is a non-conforming use is damaged or destroyed by fire, collapse, explosion, act of God or act of the public enemy, it may be restored only to its previous floor area, cubical content and exterior appearance and the non-conforming use continued to the same extent as said use existing before such destruction.

 

6.  Reversion Or Abandonment

 a.  Whenever a non-conforming use has been abandoned, changed to a conforming use, or changed to a more conforming use, it shall not thereafter be changed back to the previous non-conforming use or to a less conforming use.

 b.  For the purposes of this provision, abandonment shall mean the voluntary and intentional discontinuance of a use such as:

 i.  A change to a conforming use or to a more conforming use; or

 ii.  Any other act indicating an intent to abandon.

 

8.3.B  Non-Conforming Structures

1.  May Be Continued – Notwithstanding any other provision of these Regulations, a pre-existing non-conforming structure may remain, including through change of title or possession or right of possession of property, except as otherwise specified in this Section.

 

2.  Limitation – This Section shall not permit the non-conforming structure to violate any other provisions of these Regulations.

 

3.  Alteration Or Enlargement – A non-conforming structure shall not be extended, enlarged, or altered except:

 a.  To make it a conforming structure;

 b.  To comply with requirements of health and safety laws or ordinances;

 c.  Subject to Site Plan approval by the Commission, changes to the exterior appearance of the non-conforming structure may be permitted when the Commission determines that such change is more compatible with the surrounding neighborhood; and/or

 d.  Subject to Special Permit approval and Site Plan approval by the Commission, to result in a situation with a lesser impact upon the surrounding area than the existing structure.

 

4.  Relocation – A pre-existing non-conforming structure may, subject to Special Permit approval and Site Plan approval by the Commission, be moved or relocated provided that such moving or relocation will:

 a.  Reduce or eliminate the non-conformity; or

 b.  Result, in the opinion of the Commission, in a situation with a lesser impact upon the surrounding area than the existing structure.

 

5.  Restoration – When a non-conforming building is damaged or destroyed by fire, collapse, explosion, act of God or act of the public enemy, it may be restored only to its previous floor area, cubical content and exterior appearance as existing before such destruction.

 

6.  Flood Preparation – When a non-conforming building is located within a FEMA flood zone and is being elevated to comply with FEMA standards, it may be so elevated provided doing so does not increase its non-conformity as to yard setbacks or building coverage.

 

7.  Reversion Or Abandonment

 a.  Whenever a non-conforming structure has been abandoned, changed to a conforming structure, or changed to a more conforming structure, it shall not thereafter be changed back to the previous non-conforming structure or to a less conforming structure.

 b.  For the purposes of this provision, abandonment shall mean the voluntary and intentional discontinuance of a structure such as:

 i.  A change to a conforming structure or to a more conforming structure; or

 ii.  Any other act indicating an intent to abandon.

 

8.3.C         Non-Conforming Lots

1.  May Be Continued – Notwithstanding any other provision of these Regulations, a pre-existing non-conforming lot may remain, including through change of title or possession or right of possession of property, except as otherwise specified in this Section.

 

2.  Merger Of Adjoining Lots

 a.  If two or more adjoining lots of record, one or both of which fail to meet the requirements of these Regulations with regard to lot area, lot width, yard setback requirements and/or coverage, have continuous frontage and are in a single ownership at the effective date of these Regulations, and if such lots are taken together would form one or more lots, each more nearly meeting the requirements of these Regulations with regard to lot area, lot width, yard setback requirements, and/or coverage, such lot or lots shall no longer be considered legally existing on the effective date of these Regulations and must be used in compliance with the zoning requirements irrespective of subsequent changes in ownership.

 b.  Provided however, a lot of record, existing and recorded as a separate lot in the land records of the Town of Groton prior to February 18, 2005, even though the said lot was neither part of an approved subdivision plan nor a lot which has a valid building permit, shall be exempt from the above referenced provisions. The burden of proof to show compliance with this exemption shall be upon the lot owner.

8.4  Design Considerations

 

As used in this Section of the Regulations:

The word “shall” means that the relevant consideration, standard, criterion or action will be applied unless the applicant demonstrates that it would clearly be unreasonable or undesirable to do so.

The word “should” means that the relevant consideration, standard, criterion or action will generally be applied, but the applicant may offer, and the Commission may approve, an alternative if the Commission finds that the alternative would better fulfill the overall goals set forth in these standards.

 

8.4.A  Purpose

Since the architectural design, scale and mass of the buildings and other structures are important in determining the visual character of an area, the considerations listed in this Section are recommended in certain areas (such as the Waterfront Business Residence District and the Five Corners District) so as to ensure that new buildings harmonize with and will be compatible with the neighborhood, to protect property values and to preserve and improve the appearance and the beauty of the community.

The design considerations listed in this Section are intended to aid in maintaining and enhancing the character and quality of the buildings and public spaces in designated areas in Groton (such as the Waterfront Business Residence District and the Five Corners District) in order to maintain and enhance:

  • The distinctive character, landscape and historic value, especially in areas designated as “village districts”;
  • The sensitive balance of visual and spatial relationships that create the character and support the function of the designated areas;
  • The overall quality of the built environment; and
  • The economic and social vitality of areas which depends upon maintaining the attractiveness of the street environment, the economic viability of businesses, and a hospitable atmosphere for residential occupants and visitors.

These design considerations may also be used as part of development reviews in other areas of Groton, particularly as part of the Special Permit process.

 

8.4.B  Relationship of Buildings to Site and Adjoining Areas

1.  Buildings shall be designed and located on the site so as to retain the existing topography and natural features of the land to the greatest extent possible.

2.  Buildings shall be organized in a coordinated and functional manner that is compatible with site features and the desirable characteristics of adjoining areas.

3.  A unified design theme for building massing, exterior treatments and signage shall be established where harmony in textures, lines, and masses is provided and monotony is avoided.

4.  Parking areas shall be treated appropriately in relation to the building, the neighborhood, and the community.

5.  The height and scale of each building shall be compatible with its site and existing (or anticipated) adjoining buildings.

6.  Newly installed utility services, and service revisions necessitated by exterior alterations, shall be underground.

7.  A desirable streetscape and attractive landscape transitions to adjoining properties shall be provided.

 

8.4.C  Landscape and Site Treatment

1.  The design of the development and the placement of buildings, driveways, walkways, parking facilities and other improvements shall be such that existing trees, watercourses, rock outcrops and similar natural features are preserved to the greatest extent possible.

2.  Landscape treatment shall be provided to enhance architectural features, shield unsightly areas, provide shade, and relate to the natural environment and topography.

3.  Plant material that is indigenous to the area shall be selected for its ultimate growth and for interest in its shape, texture, and color.

4.  Pedestrian walkways shall provide safe and convenient connections within the site and between adjacent sites and shall be constructed of all-weather materials appropriate for the location (such as brick, concrete, or paving blocks but not earth, gravel, or loose stone).

5.  Existing trees of four (4) inches or greater caliper shall be incorporated into the site plan to the extent practicable and appropriate.

 

8.4.D  Building Design

1.  Architectural designs appropriate to a New England community are generally preferred (pitched roof buildings, colonial facades, etc.).

2.  Architectural features shall be evaluated based on the scale of the building(s), the quality of the design, and the relationship to surroundings.

3.  Facades and rooflines shall be articulated and/or varied to reduce the appearance of bulk and provide architectural interest.

4.  Building materials shall have good architectural character and durable quality and shall be selected for harmony of the building with adjoining buildings.

5.  Building textures, colors, and components shall be selected for harmony of the building with adjoining buildings.

6.  Utility and service equipment areas shall be screened from public view with materials harmonious with the building.

7.  Rooftop mechanical equipment (other than solar energy panels) should be concealed to the extent practicable.

 

8.4.E  Signs and Lighting

1.  Every sign shall be designed as an integral architectural element of the building and site to which it principally relates and shall be coordinated with the building architecture.

2.  Exterior lighting, where used, shall enhance the building design and the adjoining landscape.

3.  Lighting shall be restrained in design and excessive brightness avoided.

4.  Roof lighting is prohibited unless specifically approved by the Commission.

 

8.4.F  Additional Design Guidelines for Village Districts

1.  Special attention shall be paid to protecting the distinctive character, landscape, and historic structures within any Village District.

2.  The removal or disruption of historic, traditional, or significant structures or architectural elements shall be avoided or minimized.

3.  The conversion, conservation, and preservation of existing buildings and sites in a manner that maintains the historic or distinctive character of a Village District is encouraged.

4.  The exterior of structures or sites shall be consistent with:

 a.  The “Connecticut Historical Commission – The Secretary of the Interior’s Standards for Rehabilitation and Guidelines for Rehabilitating Historic Buildings”, revised through 1990, as amended; or

 b.  The distinctive characteristics of the district identified in the Plan of Conservation and Development.

 

5.  Proposed buildings or modifications to existing buildings shall be harmoniously related to their surroundings, the terrain in the district, and to the use, scale and architecture of existing buildings in the district that have a functional or visual relationship to a proposed building or modification.

6.  All spaces, structures, and related site improvements visible from public roadways shall be designed to be compatible with the elements of the area of the Village District in and around the proposed building or modification.

7.  The color, size, height, location, proportion of openings, roof treatments, building materials, and landscaping of commercial or residential property, and any proposed signs and lighting, shall be evaluated for compatibility with the local architectural motif.

8.  Maintenance of views, historic buildings, monuments, and landscaping shall be encouraged.

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