Guidelines for Homes Built Under RGFA
The purpose of this document is to assist an Applicant in developing a proposal that will meet the standards and criteria for site plan approval established in Section XI of the Weston Zoning By-Law. The Planning Board evaluates a proposal for a house located on a Scenic Road or a house that exceeds a certain size (RGFA) against the following standards and criteria:
1. The development shall be integrated into the existing terrain and surrounding landscape. Building sites shall, to the extent feasible:
a. Minimize use of wetlands, steep slopes, floodplains, hilltops;
b. Preserve natural or historic features;
c. Maximize retention of open space;
d. Minimize tree, vegetation and soil removal, blasting and grade changes
e. Screen objectionable features from abutting properties
f. Prevent pollution of groundwater, minimize erosion and sedimentation and prevent changes to groundwater levels, increased rates of runoff and minimize potential for flooding. Design drainage so that groundwater recharge is maximized and at the project boundaries the rate of runoff is not increased.
g. Building design and landscaping shall be in harmony with the prevailing character and scale of buildings in the neighborhood and the Town including the use of appropriate building materials, screening and other architectural techniques.
The Planning Board has developed a list of design, siting, and planning guidelines that implement the preceding standards and criteria. Adherence to these guidelines will facilitate a timely review by the Board.
I. Exterior Lighting: Minimize as much as possible. The Board will permit one post light by the street and lighting required by Building Code (at doors). Lighting beyond that required by Code will be scrutinized. Runway lights up the driveway and up lighting of trees and bushes are discouraged. The Applicant should attempt to keep exterior lighting below 22,000 lumens and minimize bulb wattage.
II. Landscaping Buffering: A buffer is a screen of native trees and shrubs which hide houses from the street and creates privacy . If possible, preserve the existing buffer along the property’s frontage to a minimum depth of 50 feet. Preserve existing vegetation (trees, understory and bushes) around the borders of your lot, so that neighbors are screened from your house. The larger the house, the greater the buffer that will be required. It is a simple fact that newly planted trees and bushes will never replicate the natural looking “woodsy” habitat found along Weston’s roads. Preservation of existing trees and understory will maintain this appearance. This means that a septic system or storm water drainage structure should not be located on the front of your lot where it will require the removal of the landscape buffer. Keep your driveway design basic. A circular driveway will necessitate more re grading and tree removal than a single driveway. Minimize re grading to protect existing vegetation.
III. House and Driveway Siting: Notwithstanding significant high groundwater or septic issues, work with the natural topography of your site. Re-grading should be kept to a minimum. Maintain a building apron or platform that is substantially lower or at the natural grade. Retain rock outcroppings and irregular landforms-they create an interesting lot and can provide privacy.
Keep the driveway narrow to avoid tree removal and utilize curving to minimize site lines from road to house
IV. Landscaping: Maintain natural plantings including trees of differing calipers, understory and ground cover. Understory plants include saplings and shrubs which grow well in low light conditions beneath larger trees. They are essential for a natural looking habitat. Avoid ornamental shrubs and mulch along the front of the property and along the street right of way. The street right of way is the town owned strip between the road pavement and private property. Maintenance of native vegetation (naturally occurring species sometimes disparaged as weeds!) is encouraged in the right of way and keeps the “woodsy” look of the Town. Traditional plantings in the right of way, such as ferns, Lily of the Valley, or Day Lilies are also encouraged.
V. Architecture and Materials: Look around the neighborhood. Consider neighborhood context. Keep your house design sympathetic to neighboring properties in scale, character and massing (consider elements such as style, roof design and pitch, type of materials; window design, color).
VI. Septic System and Drainage Structure Siting: Installation of leaching fields necessitate tree and understory removal. Trees are lost due to regrading for a system and damage from heavy equipment compacting the roots. Test all over the lot and stay away from the front of the lot and lot perimeter, if at all possible. The location and configuration of the septic system should compliment the rest of the site design and not stand as a separate piece of the design. When constructed, the system should not appear obvious or unnatural. Grading above and around the system should be naturalized. The location, configuration and elevation of the system should not dictate the design of the site plan. Pumped systems should be considered and may be required by the Planning Board if they meet the standards and criteria of the Zoning By-Law
Storm water runoff from impervious surfaces must be controlled on your lot. Storm water controls should be incorporated into the site design so that they compliment and do not detract from the rest of the site. Clearing, grading and additional disturbance should be minimized. Infiltration of runoff as a means of controlling the peak rate of runoff is highly encouraged.