Large House Review Information
Large House Review is the term used to describe the review of certain single family dwellings, as required by Section 16D, Large House Review, in the Zoning Bylaw. Generally, if the size of a proposed home (calculated as Total Living Area plus Garage Space or "TLAG") exceeds the established TLAG threshold for the district in which the property is located, the home must complete the Large House Review process and be approved by the Planning Board before a building permit may be issued. Changes to nonconforming single-family dwellings which require a Special Permit from the Zoning Board of Appeals (ex. a pre-existing nonconforming structure or a nonconforming lot) are exempt from Large House Review.
The purpose of Large House Review is to minimize the impacts of large houses on their surroundings by addressing aspects of the projects related to the 6 Large House Review Standards and Criteria: Preservation of Landscape, Scale of Buildings, Lighting, Open Space, Drainage, and Circulation. Applicants to the LHR process are expected to consider how their projects will impact these 6 criteria, and discuss how they have designed the dwelling and site to minimize the negative impacts on surroundings. To this end, applicants are required to submit an array of plans and documentation, as listed in the Large House Review Rules and Regulations (link below).
Both new construction and additions can be subject to Large House Review.
In the case of new houses, the project is subject to LHR if the TLAG is above the threshold for the Zoning District and the project is not subject to a Special Permit from the Zoning Board of Appeals for changes to nonconforming single-family dwellings.
In the case of additions, the project is subject to LHR if the proposed addition:
- will lead to a 10% or greater increase in the existing TLAG and
- will result in a final TLAG over the threshold and
- is not subject to a Special Permit from the Zoning Board of Appeals for changes to nonconforming single-family dwellings.
Before applying for Large House Review with the Planning Department, applicants must submit a TLAG Affidavit (and accompanying plans) to the Building Department for review. In addition, applicants are recommended to meet with Planning Department staff at least one week prior to the submission deadline to discuss the applicant’s intentions, the submission requirements, and the timing of the review process. Applicants to LHR should expect to engage, at a minimum, a land surveyor, but also likely a civil engineer, architect, and landscape architect.
Once an LHR application is submitted, it will be reviewed by the Planning Board, Design Review Board, and the Engineering Division. The submission is transmitted to the Engineering Division upon submittal so that they can begin their assessment of the project with respect to the Drainage standard. The project is scheduled for a Design Review Board meeting approximately one month removed from the submission date. The Design Review Board offers recommendations to the applicant and Planning Board related to building scale/architecture, landscaping, and lighting. Finally, approximately 2 months after initial submission, the project is scheduled for a meeting with the Planning Board, where the Board will synthesize comments from the Engineering Division and Design Review Board as well as offer the applicant their own comments. Generally, Large House Review is a 3 to 4 months-long process from the date of submission to the receipt of a Building Permit.
Section 5.9 Large House Review of the Zoning Bylaw