The Weston planning board is hiring an architectural consultant in order to determine how to address “mansionization”, which many of the town’s changes and re-interpretations of square-footage limits and permitting requirements have been supposedly addressing. The Town released a brief memo, copied below. Here is the original file, or read more below.
The Planning Board is seeking an architectural consultant who can assist the board in evaluating two different methodologies that address the concept of “mansionization” or construction of a large home in relation to its lot size. Both methodologies go through a process of reviewing architectural plans, and, in this evaluation, set a specific size of a house as a “trigger” for an in depth site plan review by the Planning Board. The methodologies use different methods of measuring a house to calculate the trigger for review. The Board is trying to evaluate these different methods of calculation of the trigger for review. Criteria include: relative difficulty/ease of use; do the methodologies encourage/discourage a particular type of design or feature? Does the threshold for review seem appropriate? Should it be larger/smaller? Do the items included in the RGFA make sense in evaluating mass of a house (garages, finished attics, basements if they are a Story Above Grade)? Do the numbers and assumptions built into the FA, MEEA, MVD, TMI make sense? Do they capture the mass of a house? How does this method compare to the RGFA in capturing mass of a house? How do the 2 methods compare when considering additions? Is either a significantly better predictor of mass impact than the other? Is either methodology more user-friendly?
1. RGFA Methodology: The first methodology, referred to as the Residential Gross Floor Area (“RGFA”), was adopted by the Town in 1997 and is used currently. The RGFA is calculated by measuring the proposed house from exterior wall to exterior wall. Attached or detached garages, both under the house or at grade, are calculated as part of the RGFA figure. Screened porches are included, decks are not. Finished attics are included, the space over a garage is included, basements are included if they are a Story above Grade, as defined in the Weston Zoning By-law.
2. Multi Tiered Methodology- This method is really four different methods including : 1. a Footprint Trigger (FA); 2. a Maximum Exterior Elevation Trigger (MEEA); 3. A Maximum Vertical Distance Trigger(MVD); 4. A Total Mass Index Figure(TMI). This methodology has not been used by the Town.
The consultant is expected to meet initially with the Planning Board to discuss the project goals, and to ensure that the consultant has a thorough enough understanding of the methodologies so that they can be applied to actual building plans. The plans will be provided by the Town Planner. The consultant will meet again with the Planning Board to review and discuss his/her results. the consultant is encouraged to meet with the Weston building Inspector for his input and explanation of how he interprets RGFA.
The analysis will compare 5 recent “real world” cases from examples selected from the Town’s records.