FAQ's for Conservation Development Bylaw
Q: What is the goal of this Conservation Development Bylaw?
A: This by-law will steer the pattern of development in a new direction that is consistent with Wendell's recent Community Development and Open Space Plans. Specifically, it will allow patterns of development that maintain working landscapes(e.g. timber management, agricultural activities, gathering, hunting, and fishing), areas for recreational purposes, and preserve wildlife corridors and important ecological aspects of Wendell's natural areas. This bylaw will also allow for more creative, efficient, and flexible residential design.
Q: Why do we want to change the way we currently develop land?
A: The current pattern of roadfront development encourages sprawl and inflexible residential design. It also diminishes opportunities for land protection.
Q: Can relatives or friends combine land for a Conservation Development project?
A: Yes, lots from various locations in Wendell can be combined to create a project area.
Q: Is it safe to put a house, a well and a septic field on a lot less than 3 acres?
A: There are many factors that need to be considered in positioning the above items when planning site development. The soil(s) of the project area will determine the location of the septic field(s). It is possible to adjoin septic fields or create a larger common septic field to accommodate more than one residence.
Q: What is “constrained land”?
A: “Constrained land” is part of a project area that cannot be built on for various reasons such as wetlands, slopes greater than 25% or 100 year FEMA floodplains.
Q: What is a Conservation Restriction (CR)?
A: “A CR is a voluntary agreement in which a landowner limits specified uses (e.g. development) of his or her property while retaining private ownership of the land” (Robert A. Levite, Umass extension). The landowner plays a large role, collaborating with the CR holder, in determining the uses of the land that will be protected. This means that land under a CR is open to any uses other than development (e.g. farming, gardening, timber management, etc.). A CR is recorded and future owners of the land are bound by the terms of the Restriction. A CR guarantees that the land will be protected and preserved forever; also there are often federal and state tax benefits.
Q: Can the Planning Board create Conservation Restrictions?
A: No, Conservation Restrictions are not within the authority of the Planning Board but the Board will give applicants recommendations on how to proceed.
Q: How difficult or costly is the Conservation Restriction (CR) process?
A: Every property is different so the costs will vary. In any subdivision process there will be a survey. A CR involves additional legal fees. Some organizations that agree to hold the CR charge a fee for their services.
Q: Can I use land that is already under a Conservation Restriction (CR) to determine the number of dwelling units?
A: Land that is already subject to a CR cannot be considered for determining the number of dwelling units, however, this land can be used to increase the percentage of protected land in the project area from 75% to a minimum of 85%, which gives certain benefits to the applicant(s).