LENOX >> Annual town meeting voters gave a thumbs-up to revamped and revised sections of the town's Byzantine zoning bylaws, approving the changes unanimously following a run-through by Planning Board Chairman Kameron Spaulding.
Apart from streamlining and clarifying some of the bylaws, additional changes are in line with the town's master plan adopted 17 years ago.
The cleanup follows nearly two years of work with Town Planner/Land Use Director Gwen Miller, other Town Hall staff and consultant Judi Barrett, as well as discussions in multiple public forums, Planning Board sessions, an all-boards meeting and a recent formal public hearing.
Among the significant changes:
• Apparel retailers, art galleries and antiques dealers in stores of less than 4,000 square feet, formerly prohibited, are now officially permitted downtown. Up to a dozen such businesses have been operating for many years.
• The term "customary home occupation" was broadened to "home occupation" as a secondary use of a residence by right. Examples include physicians, dentists, attorneys, engineers, accountants and architects who work at home, but with "no outside evidence of the use" and no more than one non-resident employee as well as other restrictions to minimize impacts on neighbors.
Visitors are limited to the number who can fit in one passenger vehicle. Only one home occupation is permitted in a single dwelling except by special permit.
• Custom manufacturing of goods such as artisan wood carvings and pottery would be allowed by right in two commercial zones, and by special permit downtown.
• The definition of an apartment building was changed to a multi-family dwelling. Such dwellings will now be allowed by special permit in certain residential areas and in the Lenox Dale industrial district.
• Indoor recreational businesses will be allowed by special permit in the industrial district, opening up more potential uses as manufacturing declines.
• Format revisions make the bylaws more user-friendly, readable and organized.
A provision to allow animal day care facilities anywhere in town was removed prior to the town meeting following negative feedback about the proposal. Kennels remain permitted in commercial zones and the industrial district.
A potential revision to the seasonal room rentals policy also was deleted pending further study. Current regulations remain in place, allowing rentals to no more than three people per single-family residence anytime from Memorial Day weekend to Columbus Day, and on weekends the rest of the year.
Contact Clarence Fanto at 413-637-2551.