ABANDONMENT : The cessation of a nonconforming use as indicated by the declared or otherwise apparent intention of an owner to terminate a nonconforming use of a structure or lot; or the removal of characteristic non-leasehold equipment used in the performance of the nonconforming use without its replacement within six (6) months by similar equipment or furnishings; or the cessation of a nonconforming use or structure caused by its replacement with a conforming use or structure. A non-conforming use which has been abandoned for a period of two (2) years cannot be reestablished. (See also "Discontinuance", below.) (Amended 10/6/94 and 3/21/96)







ADULT ESTABLISHMENTS WHICH DISPLAY LIVE NUDITY : Any establishment with an alcoholic beverage license which provides live entertainment for its patrons which includes the display of nudity as a substantial or significant portion of such live entertainment on twenty-one or more days per year, as nudity is defined in section thirty-one of chapter two hundred and seventy-two. {added 12/17/981

AFFORDABLE UNITS : Housing units which the Planning Board finds are affordable for rent or purchase by households making eighty (80) percent of the median household income for Northampton and, to the extent practicable, are only available to households whose income does not exceed 80% of median income, as calculated by the U.S. Dept. of Housing and Urban Development, with adjustments for family size, provided there are deed restrictions, easements, covenants or other mechanisms to insure that the units are affordable for a minimum of 99 years. (Amended 10/6/94)

AGRICULTURE FAIR : A principal use operated either for profit or not for profit, with the principal purpose being the promoting of agricultural activities, whether these be provided to the public at large or to the members of any particular organization and including, but not limited to, any of the following uses: entertainment, amusement, sports, recreation, racing, storage and handling of animals, judging, showing and auctioning of animals, overnight camping of scouts and other like organizations.

AGRICULTURE, FLORICULTURE, AND HORTICULTURE, VITICULTURE AND SILVACULTURE : A use which has as its principal purpose the raising of agricultural products for commercial or home use, but not including the raising of livestock or farm animals (See Section 5.3) on parcels of five (5) acres or less, and not including the sale of products, except for products raised on the premises. (Amended 7/19/90)

ALTERATION : Any construction, rearrangement, reconstruction or other similar action resulting in a change in the structural parts, height, number of stories, exits, size, use or location of a building or other structure.

AQUIFER : Geologic formation composed of rock or sand and gravel that contains significant amounts of potentially recoverable potable water.

ASSISTED LIVING RESIDENCE : A profit or non-profit entity which provides room and board and where the operator provides a minimum of two meals a day and assistance with activities of daily living for three or more elderly or disabled residents, as defined and licensed, or as may be defined and licensed in the future, by Mass. General Laws. (Amended 10/6/94)

AUTOMOTIVE REPAIR : Establishment in which the principal use is the repair of motor vehicles, including maintenance servicing; upholstery, etc. No gas sales or retail allowed. (Amended 5/02/2002)

AUTOMOTIVE SERVICE STATION : Establishment in which the principal use is the retail sale of gasoline, oil, or other motor vehicle fuel, and may contain retail convenience and variety goods for retail. The premises may include, facilities for polishing, greasing, washing, or otherwise cleaning, servicing, or repairing motor vehicles. (Amended 5/02/2002)

AVERAGE FINISHED GRADE : A reference horizontal plane representing the average of finished ground level adjoining a building at all exterior walls.

AWNING/CANOPY : A structure attached to a building, the function of which is to shelter the building's window(s) or door(s), and pedestrians from rain, wind and sun. (Adopted 3/21/85)


BASEMENT : A portion of a building partly below grade, which has less than one-third of its height measured from finished floor to finished ceiling, below the average finished grade of the ground adjoining the building. (Amended 7/19/90)

BOARD OF APPEALS : The Zoning Board of Appeals of the City of Northampton, Massachusetts.

BUILDING : A combination of any materials, whether portable or fixed, with or without a roof, enclosed within exterior walls or fire walls, built to form a structure for the shelter of persons, animals, or-property.

BUILDING ACCESSORY : A detached building, the use of which is customarily incidental and subordinate to that of the principal building, and which is located on the same lot as that occupied by the principal building.

BUILDING AREA : The ground area enclosed by the walls of a building, together with the area of all covered porches and other roofed portions, including areas covered by building overhangs in excess of eighteen (18) inches. (Amended 7/19/90)

BUILDING LINE : The line established by this Ordinance beyond which a building shall not extend, except as specifically provided in this Ordinance.

BUILDING, ATTACHED : A building having any portion of one or more walls in common or within five feet of an adjacent building. (Amended 12/21/1995)

BUILDING, DETACHED : A building having a minimum of five feet of open space on all sides. (Amended 12/21/1995)

BUILDING, PRINCIPAL : A building in which is conducted the principal use of the lot on which it is located.

BUILDING, NONCONFORMING : A building, lawfully existing at the effective date of this Ordinance, or any subsequent amendment thereto, which does not conform to one or more of the applicable regulations for the district in which the building is located.



BUSINESS SERVICE AND SUPPLY SERVICE ESTABLISHMENT : Any building wherein the primary occupation is the provision of services or supplies to the business, commercial, industrial or institutional community but not including retail sales to the general public except as a secondary and subordinate ancillary activity.

CELLAR : A portion of a building, partly or entirely below grade, half or more than one-half of its height measured from finished floor to finished ceiling, below the average finished grade of the ground adjoining the building. A cellar is not deemed a story. {See diagram #1 at the end of this section}

CERTIFICATE OF USE AND OCCUPANCY : A statement signed by the Building Commissioner setting forth either that a building or structure complies with the Zoning Ordinance or that a building, structure or parcel of land may lawfully be employed for specified uses, or both. (Amended 10/6/94)

CLUSTER RESIDENTIAL DEVELOPMENT : A development undertaken in accordance with the provisions of Section 10.5 of this Ordinance, consisting of a variety of dwelling types integrated with each other and with a significant area of common open space, and developed at a density not exceeding that which would be ordinarily expected from a typical conventional subdivision.

COMMERCIAL VEHICLE : A vehicle registered for commercial use.


COMMUNITY CENTER : A facility operated by a religious, nonprofit or municipal organization primarily to provide public facilities for meetings, classes, teen centers and similar uses. A community center may include artists' space and offices for nonprofit-organizations if such uses are clearly secondary to the primary use of the building and do not include any residential or overnight components. (Added 5/7/98)



CONSTRUCTION SUPPLY ESTABLISHMENT : A retail establishment the primary purpose of which sells, rents, leases, services, and/or otherwise maintains materials and/or equipment involved in construction activities, including, but not limited to hardware, lumber, and equipment sales, and millwork. The hiring out of construction equipment intact with an operator is not considered to be a part of a construction supply establishment. (Amended 7/19/90)

DAMAGE TO THE ENVIRONMENT : Any destruction, damage or impairment, actual or probable, to any of the natural resources of the commonwealth including, but not limited to, air pollution, water pollution, improper sewage disposal, pesticide pollution, excessive noise, improper operation of dumping grounds, impairment and eutrophication of rivers, streams, floodplains, lakes, ponds, or other surface or subsurface water resources, destruction of seashores, dunes, marine resources, underwater archaeological resources, wetlands, open spaces, natural areas, parks, or historic districts or sites.

DISCONTINUANCE : The cessation of a non-conforming use unless evidence is provided that the property has been actively and continuously marketed during such time and said marketing has contemplated the continuation of the non-conforming use. A non-conforming use which has been discontinued for a period of two (2) years cannot be reestablished. (See also "Abandonment"; above:) (Added 3/21/96)

DISTRICT : A zoning district established by this Ordinance. (Amended 6/17/93)


DORMITORY : A building containing sleeping rooms, dining rooms, common rooms, and accessory facilities intended exclusively for the use of students of an educational institution, having been constructed or converted by that institution or with its specific authorization.

DRIVE-IN ESTABLISHMENT : A business establishment wherein patrons are usually served while seated in parked vehicles in the same lot: The term "drive-in" includes drive in eating establishments where food is purchased from a building on the lot, but is consumed in the vehicle; drive-in service establishments such as banks, cleaners, and the like; and automotive service stations, gasoline stations, or the like.

DRIVEWAY : A space, located on a lot, built for access to a garage or off-street parking or loading space. (Amended 7/19/90)

DWELLING : A privately or publicly owned permanent structure which is occupied in whole or part as the home residence or sleeping place of one or more persons. The terms "one-family", "two-family", "three-family" or "multi-family" dwelling shall not include hotel, lodging house, hospital, membership club, mobile home, or dormitory.

DWELLING, MOBILE HOME : A single family residential unit with all of the following characteristics; (a) designed for long-term occupancy, and containing sleeping accommodations, a flush toilet, a tub or shower bath and kitchen facilities with plumbing and electrical connections provided for attachment to outside systems; (b) designed to be transported after fabrication on its own wheels or on a flat bed or other trailer or detachable wheels; (c) arriving at the site where it is to be occupied as a dwelling complete, conventionally designed to include major appliances and furniture; and ready for occupancy except for minor and incidental unpacking and assembly operations, location on foundation supports, connection to utilities, and the like; (d) designed for removal to and installation or erection on other sites.

       A.mobile home shall be defined to include two (2) or more units, separately towable, which when joined together have the characteristics as described above. For the purposes of this Ordinance, a mobile home shall not be deemed a "one-family dwelling".

DWELLING, MODULAR UNIT : A factory-fabricated transportable building designed to be used by itself or to be incorporated with similar units at a building site into a modular structure that will be a finished building in a fixed location. The term is intended to apply to major assemblies, and does not include prefabricated panels, trusses, plumbing trees, and other prefabricated sub-elements incorporated into a structure at the site. For the purpose of this Ordinance a modular unit shall not be deemed a "mobile home" but shall be regarded as a conventional dwelling, subject to the rules and regulations contained herein.

DWELLING, MULTI-FAMILY : A building containing four (4) or more dwelling units and including apartment houses and garden apartment house, but not including a townhouse. (Amended 7/ 19/90)

DWELLING, ONE-FAMILY : A detached building containing one dwelling unit, also referred to as a "single family dwelling".

DWELLING, THREE-FAMILY : A detached building containing three (3) dwelling units, but not including a townhouse.

DWELLING, TWO-FAMILY : A detached building containing two (2) dwelling units.


DWELLING UNIT : Rooms providing complete living facilities for the use of one or more individuals, with permanent provisions for living, sleeping, eating, cooking, and sanitation, whether owned, rented, leased, or in a condominium or cooperative. (Amended 5/7/98)

ESSENTIAL FACILITIES : Facilities necessary for the provision of services ordinarily provided by municipalities, public corporations, and public or private utilities, which facilities must provide a link (interrupted only by intermediate facilities) between central facilities of the utility and individual lots served including, but not necessarily limited to gas, water, and sewer mains; storm sewers; electrical and communication wires, whether underground or overhead; police and/or fire call boxes, hydrants, and other stations or terminals of such continuous systems; and facilities accessory to such systems, including but not limited to manholes, telephone poles, and the like, but not including any intermediate facility, such as a major electrical sub-station; a telephone dial center, or a sewage pumping station, any facility defined under municipal facilities, any use listed under the definition of heavy public use, or any facility of a public corporation or of a public or private utility which is separately listed in Table of Use Regulations.



       (a) individual or two or more persons related by blood, marriage, or legal adoption living together as a single housekeeping unit and including necessary domestic help such as nurses or servants.

       (b) A group of individuals not related by blood, marriage, or legal adoption, but living together as a single housekeeping unit. For purposes of controlling residential density each -such group of four (4) individuals shall constitute a single family. (Amended 7/19/90)

FAMILY DAY CARE (IN THE HOME) : Any private residence which on a regular basis, receives for temporary custody and care during part or all of the day, children under seven years of age or children under sixteen years of age if such children have special needs; provided however, in either case, that the total number of children under sixteen in a family day care in the home shall not exceed six, including participating children living in the residence. Family day care in the home shall not mean a private residence used for an informal cooperative arrangement among neighbors or relatives, or the occasional care of children with or without compensation therefor, or where all of the children are of the family of the owner/occupant of the private residence. Family Day Care facilities must be registered with the Building Commissioner. (Adopted 7/19/90, amended 3/21/96)


FILLING : Any deposit, placement, storage redistribution of soil, earth, sand, gravel, rock, loam, or other similar material on any land, wetland, or in watercourses and including the conditions resulting therefrom.

FLOOD ELEVATION, BASE OR FLOOD ELEVATION, ONE HUNDRED YEAR : The flood elevation shall be as indicated on the "Flood Insurance Rate Map", prepared by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development for the National Flood Insurance Program.

FLOODPROOFED : To be made watertight to the level of the 100-year flood with walls substantially impermeable to the passage of water and with structural components having the capability of resisting hydrostatic and hydrodynamic loads and effects of buoyancy as certified by a registered professional engineer.

FLOOR AREA, GROSS : The sum of the gross horizontal area of the several floors including basements of a principal building and its faces of the walls. It does not include cellars; unenclosed porches or attics not used for human occupancy; malls within a shopping center utilized purely for pedestrian circulation and/or decorative purposes between individual shops of the center; any floor space in an accessory or principal building intended and designed for the parking of motor vehicles in order to meet the parking requirements of this Ordinance; or any such floor space intended or designed for accessory heating, ventilating and air conditioning equipment.

FRATERNITY AND/OR SORORITY : A building containing sleeping rooms, dining rooms, common rooms, and accessory facilities intended exclusively for the use of students of a college or university who belong to a group or organization which involves common living and which group is organized and operated with the specific approval and under the regulations of the institution.

FRONTAGE : The uninterrupted length of the front lot line, as defined herein, whether straight or not, which conforms to the Minimum Lot Frontage Requirement and is on:

       1. A public way or a way which the city clerk certifies is maintained and used as a public way; or

       2. A way shown on a previously approved subdivision plan which has been constructed to the standards required when subdivision approval was granted; or

       3. A way that predates subdivision control that has, in the Planning Board's opinion, suitable width, grades, and construction adequate and reasonable for vehicular traffic, including emergency vehicles and snow removal vehicles, and the installation of utilities. (Amended 10/6/94 and 3/21/96)

FUNERAL ESTABLISHMENT : A building or part thereof used for human funeral services. Such building may contain space and facilities for (a) embalming and the performance of other services necessary for the preparation of the dead for burial, (b) the performance of autopsies and other surgical procedures, (c) the storage of caskets, funeral urns, and other related funeral supplies, (d) the storage of funeral vehicles, (e) facilities for cremation, and (f) the living quarters of an individual whose bona-fide occupation is in the funeral establishment.

GARAGE, PRIVATE : A garage(s) for housing motor vehicles, with a capacity of not more than three (3) vehicles for a single family dwelling, plus the capacity for one additional vehicle for each additional dwelling unit. (Amended 7/19/90)

GROUNDWATER : All the water found beneath the surface of the ground.


HAZARDOUS WASTE : A waste which is hazardous to human health or the environment as designated by the U. S. Environmental Protection Agency under 40 CFR 250 and the Regulations of the Massachusetts hazardous Waste Management Act, M.G.L., Chapter 21 C.

HALFWAY HOUSE OR COMMUNITY RESIDENCE : A building containing sleeping rooms, common rooms, dining rooms, and accessory facilities intended exclusively for the use of participants of a program of rehabilitation of individuals prior to their complete reentry into normal society, which program is formally recognized by an agency of the Commonwealth. One or more individuals responsible for the operation of a halfway house shall be resident therein, and facilities for such resident director and his family shall be provided.

HEAVY PUBLIC USE : Any structure or use:


       1. Used by a government agency if not otherwise exempt from zoning or allowed elsewhere in this ordinance; and

       2. Any of the following specific uses conducted by or for the City of Northampton: truck or equipment storage garage or yard, vehicle repair garage, or waste recycling plant; and

       3. Any public or private sanitary landfill, dump, incinerator; or water or sewage treatment facility; or sewage lift station. (Revised 7/19/90 & 4/3/97)

HEIGHT : The vertical distance from the average finished grade of the adjacent ground to the top of the structure of the highest roof beams of a flat roof, the deck of a mansard roof, or the mean level of the highest gable or slope of a hip roof. f see diagram #2, at the end of this section

HOME OCCUPATION : A vocation, trade, small business, craft, art or profession which can be conducted in entirety within the main (principal) or accessory building of a property by a bona fide resident of that main building and which, by nature of its limited size and scope, does not cause any outward manifestation (such as traffic generation, parking congestion, noise or air pollution, materials storage, and public service or utility demand) which is uncharacteristic of or an additional disturbance to the residential neighborhood in which said property is located. The following occupations are excluded if clients will be seen in the home, although other uses may be excluded on a case-by-case basis:

       Any clinic, veterinary hospital, restaurant, retail or wholesale supply shop or store, mortuary, medical doctor (MD, DO, DPM or equivalent), dentist (DDS, DMD or equivalent), chiropractor, lawyer, real estate or insurance agent. (See 11.11 for additional criteria.) (Amended 12/7/89 and 10/6/94)

HOSPITAL : A use providing 24-hour emergency room services, outpatient services, and 24-hour impatient services for persons admitted thereto for the diagnosis, medical, surgical or restorative treatment including accessory uses that serve the hospital's needs, including, but not limited to, cafeteria and pharmacy. A hospital does not include nursing home, assisted living residence, or nonhospital medical center or medical office. (Amended 4/18/96)

HOSPITAL, VETERINARY : A building providing for the diagnosis and treatment of ailments of animals other than human, including facilities for overnight care, but not including crematory facilities.

HOTEL : A building or group of buildings, part of a building containing rooming units without individual cooking facilities for transient occupancy and having a common entrance or entrances or individual exterior entrances; and including an inn, motel, motor inn and tourist court, but not including a boarding house, lodging house or rooming house.

IMPERVIOUS SURFACES : Materials or structures on or above the ground that do not allow precipitation to infiltrate the underlying soil.

JUNK : Any worn out, castoff, or discarded articles or material which is ready for destruction or has been collected or stored for salvage or conversion to some use. Any article or material which, unaltered or unchanged and without further reconditioning, can be used for its original-purpose as readily as when new shall not be considered junk.

JUNK MOTOR VEHICLE : Any motor vehicle not capable of being used as such in its existing condition by reason of being damaged or dismantled or failing to contain parts necessary for operation and otherwise qualifying as junk.

LANDSCAPED AREA : The percent of the site, including buffers and setbacks, which will be planted with vegetation (i.e. grass or live ground cover, shrubs, trees), or on which existing vegetation will be left undisturbed, underlaid by a pervious surface (soil). Used as a measure of the intensity of land use. (Added 6/17/93)

LEACHABLE WASTES : Waste materials including solid wastes, sludge and pesticide and fertilizer wastes capable of releasing water-borne contaminants to the environment.

LIVING SPACE : The net floor area within a dwelling unit exclusive of utility rooms, closets, attics, and cellars.

LOADING SPACE : An off-street space at least twelve (12) feet in width, fifty (50) feet in length and with a vertical clearance of at least fourteen (14) feet, having an area of not less than thirteen hundred (1,300) square feet which includes access and maneuvering space used exclusively for loading and unloading of goods and materials from one vehicle. The dimensions of the loading space may be reduced by the Building Commissioner to not less than three hundred (300) square feet which includes access and maneuvering space, when it is clearly evident that service vehicles utilizing said space will not require the area listed above. (Amended 10/6/94)

LODGING HOUSE : A building containing four (4) or more lodging units.


LODGING UNIT : One or more rooms for the semi-permanent use of one, two, or three individuals not living as a single housekeeping unit and not having individual kitchen facilities. A "lodging unit" shall include rooms in boarding houses, lodging houses or rooming houses. It shall not include convalescent, nursing or rest homes; dormitories or charitable, educational or philanthropic institutions; or apartments, hotels or tourist homes/bed and breakfast facilities. (Amended 7/19/90)

LOT : A parcel of land held in fee-simple ownership designated on a plan or deed filed with the Hampshire County Registry of Deeds or Land Court, however, contiguous lots in common ownership may not be divided except in conformance with this Ordinance. Two or more contiguous lots in common ownership may be treated as one lot for the purposes of this Ordinance provided that the combined lots are used as a single lot would customarily be used. The following shall not be counted toward land within the minimum lot area: Land under permanent water bodies; land within public ways, and land within private ways and rights-of-ways where the general public has the right of access by automotive vehicles. (Amended 10/6/94 & 5/20/99)

LOT CORNER : A lot at the point of intersection of and abutting on two or more intersection streets, the interior angle of intersection of the street lot lines, or extended lot lines in case of a curved street being not more than 135 degrees. For purposes of this Ordinance, the yard adjacent to each street shall be considered a front yard, however, this will not affect designation of the front line. {See diagram 4, at the end of this section.}

LOT DEPTH : The mean horizontal distance, measured perpendicular (at right angles) to the front lot line, between the front lot line and the rear of the lot. Said distance shall be measured from a portion of the front lot line that equals the minimum lot frontage and no (principal) structure may be placed on a portion of the lot that has a depth less than the minimum lot depth required.

LOT FRONTAGE : (See "Frontage," above.) (Amended 7/19/90 and 3/21/96)


LOT, INTERIOR : Any lot other than a corner lot or a through lot.


LOT LAYOUT : In addition to the minimum lot area, depth, width and frontage requirements, lots shall be laid out in such a manner so that a square, with sides equal to the minimum frontage requirement for the zoning district in which it is located, can be placed within the lot with at least one point of the square lying on the front lot line with no portion of the square extending beyond the boundaries of the lot.

LOT LINE, FRONT : The property line dividing a lot from a single street right-of-way. In the case of a corner lot or a through lot, at least one front lot line shall conform to the minimum lot frontage requirement.


LOT LINE, REAR : The lot line most nearly opposite from the front lot line. {See diagram 4 at the end of this section}

LOT LINE, SIDE : Any lot line not a front or rear lot line. {See diagram 4 at end of section.}


LOT, NONCONFORMING : (See Pre-Existing Nonconforming Lot). (Amended 7/19/90)


LOT, THROUGH : A lot which abuts two (2) streets, but not at their intersection. {See diagram. 5, at the end of this section.}

LOT, WIDTH : The horizontal distance (measured parallel to the Front Lot Line) between the side lot lines. At no point, between the front lot line and the rear of the principal structure (said rear being the furthest point of the structure from the Front Lot Line) located on the lot, shall the lot have a width less than the minimum lot width required.

MANUFACTURING : Heavy or light industry, manufacture or assembly of a product, including processing, fabrication, assembly, treatment, packaging, and allowed accessory uses. (Added 10/17/91, amended 5/7/98)

MEDICAL CENTER : A building or group of buildings used for the offices and facilities accessory to the practice of licensed medical practitioners, (including physicians, dentists, optometrists, ophthalmologists, and persons engaged in all fields related generally to medicine, but not including veterinarians) and including such common facilities as an outpatient clinic or emergency treatment rooms, but not including inpatient facilities.



       1. Workers perform their primary occupations which are otherwise permitted in that zoning district and where businesses and artists create original and creative works (such as books, writings or compositions for sale, paintings, sculptures, traditional and fine crafts, creation or acting of films, creation or performance of dances); and

       2. Those workers arid artists and their immediate families live in the same building or property as where they work, although not necessarily in the same unit; and

       3. Residential space is clearly secondary to work space and consists of no more than 50l0 of the total residential/work space; and

       4. Residential space is located above the first floor. (Added 5/7/98)





MOTOR VEHICLE : Any vehicle self propelled by a battery powered, electric or internal combustion engine, which are permitted and requires a valid registration legally issued by a governmental authority in order to be operated on a public way. A motor vehicle shall include, but not be limited to automobiles, trucks, buses, motor-homes, motorized campers, motorcycles, motor scooters, tractors. (Adopted 7/19/90)

MOTOR VEHICLE ACCESSORIES : Any part or parts of any motor vehicle. (Adopted 7/19/90)

MUNICIPAL FACILITIES : Municipally-owned facilities utilized in the provision of services normally provided by municipalities, such as schools, parks (including related banquet facilities operated in accordance with the City of Northampton Open Space and Recreation Plan), playgrounds, municipal office buildings, and the like, but not including any facility defined as essential facilities, or as a heavy public use, or any use, specifically listed in the Table of Use Regulations. (Revised 4/3/1997; 10/7/1999, 11/7/2002)

       **Webmasters Note: The previous definition has been revised as per an amendment dated 11/7/02.



NURSING HOME : Also known as extended care home, rest home, or convalescent home. A nursing home is any state licensed facility for two or more patients that provides beds and domiciliary and/or nursing care for chronic or convalescent patients and which is properly licensed by the State, but not including assisted living residences. (Amended 4/18/96)

OFFICE OR BUSINESS OFFICE : A room, studio, suite or building in which a person transacts his business or carries on his stated occupation. For the purpose of this Ordinance, an office shall not involve manufacturing, fabrication, production, processing, assembling, cleaning, testing, repair or storage of materials, goods and products which are physically located on the premises. An office shall not be deemed to include a veterinary hospital.



OPEN SPACE : The space on a lot unoccupied by buildings or structures, unobstructed to the sky by man-made objects other than walks, swimming pools, and terraced areas, not devoted to streets, driveways, off-street parking or loading spaces and expressed as a percentage of total lot area. (See diagram #6 at the end of this section)

OUTDOOR ADVERTISING BOARD : The Outdoor Advertising Board of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts or any board or official which may hereafter succeed to its powers or functions.

OUTDOOR COMMERCIAL RECREATION USE : A principal (but not accessory) use operated either for profit or not for profit, with the principal purpose being the provision of outdoor recreational facilities, whether these be provided to the public at large or to the members of any particular organization, and including, but not limited to any of the following uses: country, fishing, golf, tennis, or swimming club, or golf driving range, sports camp, campground, marina, or horseback riding establishment.

OWNER : The duly authorized agent, attorney, purchaser, devisee, trustee, lessee, or any person having vested or equitable interest in the use, structure or lot in question.

PERMIT, TEMPORARY OCCUPANCY : A permit issued by the Building Commissioner indicating near-compliance with the provisions of this Ordinance and allowing occupancy or use on, a temporary basis while full compliance is achieved. (Amended 10/6/94)

PERMIT, ZONING : A permit issued by the Building Commissioner on the basis of plans and other submitted material to allow construction or other preparation for the use or occupancy of a building. (Amended 10/6/94)

PLANNED UNIT DEVELOPMENT (PUD) : A mixed residential, business, and institutional development with extensive open space where the mixed uses are integrated with each other at an overall density not exceeding that which would be ordinarily expected from a typical conventional development. Business PUDs are a type of PUD allowed in the Planned Village District. (See 5.2 and 10.15.) (Amended 6/17/93)

PRE-EXISTING NONCONFORMING LOTS : A lot which, when originally created, conformed to any zoning requirements relative to minimum lot area, minimum lot width and frontage, and/or minimum lot depth which were then in effect, but which zoning requirements have since been amended so that said lot would no longer conform in all respects to such new requirements. (Adopted 8/16/84)

PRE-EXISTING NONCONFORMING STRUCTURES : A structure or addition which, when originally constructed, was lawfully in existence or lawfully begun and conformed to any zoning requirements relative to minimum setbacks, maximum floor area ratio or other dimensional and area requirements which were then in effect, but which zoning requirements have since-been amended so that such structure or addition would now require a Variance. (Adopted 8/16/84)

PRE-EXISTING NONCONFORMING USE : A use which, when originally commenced, was lawfully in existence or lawfully begun and was permitted in the Zoning District in which it was located, but since then the Zoning Ordinance has been amended so that such use would now require a Special Permit or would be prohibited and would require a Use Variance. (Adopted 8/16/84)

PRIMARY AQUIFER RECHARGE AREA : Areas which are underlain by surficial geologic deposits including glaciofluvial or lacustrine stratified drift deposits or alluvium or swamp deposits, and in which the prevailing direction of groundwater flow is toward the area of influence of water supply wells.

RADIOACTIVE WASTE : Any radioactive materials which are no longer in use nor being stored for future use, except that for the purpose of this ordinance the following items shall not be considered radioactive waste:

       1. Personal or household items or waste containing minimal amounts of radioactive material, such as watches or smoke detectors.

       2. Waste which does not qualify as low level radioactive waste under M.G.L. Chapter 111 H, generated by or through the use of radioactive material for medical procedures or research facility licensed by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. (Amended 10/6/94)

RECEIPT : As used herein, receipt of an application or of a request means an official receipt on the forms or in the format prescribed by the board or agency responsible for reviewing the application and accompanied by all of the supporting materials or documentation required by the board or agency as being necessary at the time of or the signature of an appropriate official showing the time and date of the receipt, such stamp or signature to be used only after the entire application, including all supporting material has been checked for completeness and accuracy. Any acceptance of an application or material by the City Clerk or any city employee who is an agent, or any employee of a board shall be subject to further review by that board and receipt shall not have occurred until after such further review has satisfied such board that all requirements for time shall be measured, in the case of receipt by an agency, from the date shown on the stamp or with the signature of the appropriate official; and in the case of receipt by a board, from the date of the first regular meeting of the board following acceptance of the material by the City Clerk or an agent or employee of the board at which meeting the application shall be reviewed and accepted as being complete, or rejected as being incomplete.

REPAIR SERVICE ESTABLISHMENT : Any building wherein primary occupation is the repair and general servicing of appliances, tools, and other small machinery common to use in homes or businesses, but not including automotive repair or automobile service stations; or anyplace wherein the primary occupation is interior decorating, to include reupholstering and the making of draperies, slipcovers, and other similar articles, but not to include furniture or cabinet making establishments.

RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT FACILITY : A facility primarily for scientific or product research, investigation, testing, or experimentation, along with incidental offices, incidental storage, incidental manufacture and sale of products, and incidental employee-only facilities. (Amended 6/15/93)

RETAIL & PERSONAL SERVICES : The sale rental, or repair of goods and/or provision of services including: antiques, apparel, appliances (home use), art supplies, bakeries, barber shops, beauty shops, books, cameras, card shops, china and pottery, draperies and interior decorating supplies, drugs, film developing and printing, florist, fruit, furniture, gifts and stationery, grocery, hardware, house wares and home furnishing, jewelry, laundering and other garment servicing, music, newsstand, novelties, paint, shoes, pet supplies and pet grooming, shoe cleaning or repair, specialized food, sporting goods, toys, tailors, vegetable markets, and other similar places of business. Includes discount food and merchandise "clubs". (Amended 5/2/2002)

SERVICE STATION : A building or part thereof whose chief activity is the selling of gasoline, oil and related products for motor vehicles or the provision of lubricating service or general auto repair.

SETBACK : The minimum distance from a lot line to a building placed thereon, or feature thereof as is required in a particular situation by the TABLE OF- DIMENSIONAL AND DENSITY REGULATIONS. Said Setback shall be measured perpendicular (at right angles) to the lot line. At no point shall any structure on the lot be any closer to any street line, whether said street line directly abuts the lot or not, than the minimum front yard setback requirement for that Zoning District. {See diagram 6 at the end of this section}

SETBACK, FRONT : Setback required from a front line and from any street line of a corner lot or a through lot. {See diagram 6 at the end of this section.}

SETBACK LINE : A line, whether straight or not, which denotes the location of the minimum setback.

SETBACK, REAR : Setback required from a rear line. {See diagram 6 at the end of this section.}

SETBACK, SIDE : Setback required from a side line. {See diagram 6 at, the end of this section.}

SIGN : Any permanent or temporary structure, device, blimp, letter, work, model, banner, pennant, insignia, trade flag, or representation used as, or which is in the nature of, an advertisement, announcement, or direction, or is designed to attract the eye by any means including intermittent or repeated motion or illumination. A sign shall include lettering on a motor vehicle or trailer unless the vehicle or trailer is licensed for road travel and is in use or parked in a legal parking or loading area. (Amended 10/6/94 & 5/7/98)

SIGN, ACCESSORY : Any sign that advertises or indicates the person occupying the premises on which the sign is erected or maintained or the business transacted thereon, or advertises the property itself or any part thereof as for sale or rent, and which contains no other matter.

SIGN, BUSINESS : A sign used to direct attention to a service, product sold, or other activity performed on the same premises upon which the sign is located.

SIGN, GENERAL ADVERTISING : Any sign advertising products or services other than products or services available on the lot on which the sign is located, or any sign which is not located within two hundred (200) feet of the building or other structure at which the products or services thereon are available.

SIGN, GROUND : A sign erected on or affixed to the land including any exterior sign not attached to a building.

SIGN, IDENTIFICATION : A sign used simply to identify the name, address, and title of an individual family or firm occupying the premises upon which the sign is located or to give information, such as time or temperature.

SIGN, NON-ACCESSORY : Any sign not an accessory sign.


SIGN, SURFACE AREA OF : For a sign, either free-standing or attached, the area shall be considered to include all lettering, background whether open or enclosed, on which they are displayed, but not including any supporting framework and bracing, which are incidental to the display itself. For a sign consisting of individual letters, designs and symbols attached to or painted directly on the surface of a building, wall, window, awning/canopy or other approved surfaces, with no other background, the area shall be considered to be that of the smallest quadrangle which encompasses all of the letters, designs, and symbols. The largest side of a two-sided sign shall be used in calculating the surface area of such a sign. (Adopted 3/21/85)

SIGN, WALL : A sign affixed to the exterior wall of a building and extending not more than fifteen (15) inches therefrom.

SPECIAL PERMIT : A special authorization to conduct a particular use or to take advantage of a particular situation set forth in this Ordinance, subject to the provisions of Section 10.10, the Table of Use Regulations, where applicable, and the particular section authorizing the special permit where applicable.

SPECIAL PERMIT GRANTING AUTHORITY : That body or individual empowered to grant special permits. As specified by the section providing for the granting of the special permit, that body or individual may be the Zoning Board of Appeals, the Planning Board, or the City Council. Where no specific such body is named, the Zoning Board of Appeals shall have jurisdiction.

STORY : The portion of a building which is between one floor level and the next higher floor level. If a mezzanine floor area exceeds one-third of the area of the floor immediately below it, the mezzanine shall be deemed to be a story. A basement shall be deemed to be a story, and a cellar shall not be deemed to be a story. An attic shall not be deemed to be a story if unfinished and without human occupancy. {See diagram #7 at the end of this section.} (Amended 7/19/90)

STORY, HALF : A story under a gable, nipped, or gambrel roof, the wall plates of which on at least two opposite exterior walls are not more than two (2) feet above the floor of such story. {See diagram #7 at the end of this section.}

STRUCTURE : A combination of materials for permanent or temporary occupancy of use, such as a building, bridge trestle, tower, framework, retaining wall, tank, tunnel, tent, stadium, reviewing stand, platform, swimming pool, shelters, piers, wharves, bin, fence, sign, gasoline pumps, recreational courts, or the like.

STRUCTURE, ACCESSORY : Any structure which is incidental and subordinate to the principal structure, but which is located on the same lot as the principal structure. Accessory structures shall not exceed forty (40) percent of the gross floor area of the principal structure(s) and shall not contain sleeping or kitchen facilities. f Added 12/21/1996)

STRUCTURE, NONCONFORMING : A structure lawfully existing at the effective date of this Ordinance, or any subsequent amendments thereto, which does not conform to all applicable regulations of this Ordinance for the district in which it is located.

SUBSTANTIAL IMPROVEMENT : Any repair, reconstruction, or improvement of a structure within a five year period which either increases the building area or the original structure by fifteen (15%) or more, or the cost of repair, reconstruction, or improvement which equals or exceeds fifteen (15%) of the assessed value of the original structure, either (a) before the improvement is started, or (b) if the structure has been damaged and is being restored, before the damage occurred. (Amended 7/19/90 and 10/6/94 and 5/2/2002)

TELECOMMUNICATION FACILITIES : Towers, antennas and accessory structures, including personal wireless facilities, used in connection with the provision of cellular telephone service, personal communications services, paging services, radio and television broadcast services, and similar broadcast services. Telecommunications facilities do not include the following facilities which are accessory uses or structures: antenna used solely for residential household television and radio reception; satellite antenna which are not visible from a neighboring property or public way and satellite antenna measuring two (2) meters or less, in diameter; nor amateur radio facilities under sixty-five (65) feet above ground actively used in accordance with the terms of any amateur radio service license issued by the Federal Communication Commission, provided that the tower is not used or licensed for any commercial use. (Added 4/3/97)

TELECOMMUNICATIONS TOWERS : Structures designed to support antennas, including freestanding towers, guyed towers, monopoles, towers on buildings, and similar structures. (Added 4/3/97)

TELECOMMUNICATIONS ANTENNA : A system of electrical conductors that transmit or receive radio frequency signals, but not including any support system designed to increase the height of the antenna above the tower or building. Such signals shall include but not be limited to radio, television, cellular, paging, personal communication services (PCS) and microwave communications. (Added 4/3/97)



TRADESMAN : Builder, carpenter, electrician, painter, plumber, tree surgeon, landscape gardener or similar building trade occupation. (Adopted 7/19/90)

TOURIST HOME/BED AND BREAKFAST : An owner-occupied single-family dwelling which may rent up to a maximum of three (3) rooming units for transient occupancy, not to exceed a total of six (6) renters (without individual kitchen facilities and with an individual or shared bath/toilet facility, with at least one toilet, one bath/shower and one wash basin, separate from those required for the single-family dwelling), which share a common entrance for the single-family dwelling. The use of that portion of the dwelling devoted to transient occupancy shall be secondary to the use of the dwelling as a single-family residence and shall not change the character thereof.

TOWNHOUSE : A row, attached side-to-side (not on top of each other), of at least two (2) and not more than eight (8) dwelling units. Each unit in the row may be owned by a separate owner. {See diagram 9, Page # 2-21.1 (Amended 10/6/94)

UNREGISTERED MOTOR VEHICLE : Any motor vehicle required to be registered by law of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts for operation on public ways, not so registered.

USE : The purpose for which a structure or lot is arranged, designed, or intended to be used, occupied or maintained.

USE, ACCESSORY : A use which is customarily incidental and subordinate to the principal use of a structure or lot, or a use which is not the principal use, but which is located on the same lot as the principal structure, provided said accessory use is permitted in that District under this Ordinance. Accessory uses shall be interpreted as not exceeding forty (40) percent of the area of the total use of the structure and/or lot on which is located.

USE, MIXED : Two or more Principal Uses occupying the same structure or lot, where more than one Principal Use is permitted on the lot. (Amended 7/19/90)

USE, NONCONFORMING : (See Pre-Existing Nonconforming Use). (Amended 7/19/90)


USE, PRINCIPAL : The main or primary purpose for which a structure or lot is designed, arranged, or intended, or for which it may be used, occupied or maintained under this Ordinance. Any other use within the main structure or the use of any other structure or land on the same lot and incidental or supplementary to the principal use and permitted under this Ordinance shall be considered an accessory use.

USE, SUBSTANTIALLY DIFFERENT : A use which by reason of its normal operation would cause readily observable differences in patronage, service, appearance, noise, employment or similar characteristics from the use to which it is being compared.

VARIANCE : Such departure from the terms of this Ordinance as the Board of Appeals is empowered to authorize. (Amended 6/17/93)




WETLANDS : includes, but not limited to, wet meadow, marshes, swamps, bogs, areas where groundwater, flowing or standing surface water or ice provide a significant part of the supporting substrate for a plant community for a significant part of the year; emergent and submergent plant communities in inland water; that portion of any bank which touches any inland waters; and the land, including submerged land, which consists of-any soil types designated as, but not limited to, very poorly drained as identified by the National Cooperative Soils Survey, as may be amended from time to time, of the Soil Conservation Service of the United States Department of Agriculture, of the Massachusetts Wetlands Protection Act and any local wetlands ordinance. (Amended 7/19/90)

YARD : A portion of a lot located within a required setback area which must remain unobstructed artificially from the ground to the sky except as may be allowed by specific provisions of this Ordinance. f See diagram #6 at the end of this section

YARD, FRONT : The portion of a lot lying between the front line and the front setback line. {See diagram 6 at the end of this section.}

YARD, REAR : The portion of a lot lying between the rear line and the rear setback line. f See diagram #6 at the end of this section.)

YARD, SIDE : The portion of a lot lying between a side line and the corresponding side setback line. {See diagram 7 at the end of the section.)


APPLICANT : Either the owner of the land stated in the application for subdivision or all the owners where title is held jointly, in common, or in tenancy by the entirety, including corporations. An agent, representative, or assignees may act for an owner, provided written evidence of such fact is submitted. Evidence in the form of a list of their officers and designated authority to sign legal documents shall be required for a corporation.

BOARD : The Planning Board of the City of Northampton.


CERTIFIED BY (OR ENDORSED BY) A PLANNING BOARD : As applied to a plan or other instrument required or authorized by the Subdivision Control Law to be recorded shall mean bearing a certification or endorsement signed by a majority of the members of the Planning Board or any other person authorized by the Planning Board to certify or endorse its approval or other action and named in a written statement to the Register of Deeds and Recorder of the Land Court, signed by a majority of the Planning Board.

CITY ENGINEER : The City Engineer of Northampton or designee.


COLLECTOR STREET : A street which receives and distributes traffic from and to various sub-areas within a given region, and receives traffic from a given residential neighborhood or industrial area and carries it to an arterial highway. These roads run through developed areas or connect concentrations of development and carry significant volumes (Average Daily Traffic (ADT) ranges typically 1,500 to 3,500).(Amended April 11, 1991)

ENGINEER : Any person who is registered or otherwise legally authorized by the State of Massachusetts to perform professional civil engineering services.

LIMITED ACCESS ROAD : Road with the sole purpose of carrying through traffic and provide no direct access to abutting properties. (Amended April 11, 1991)

LOCAL STREET : A street (having an ADT not to exceed 1500) which primarily provides access to and serves adjacent land uses. (Amended August 28, 1989)

MAJOR STREET : A street having the primary purpose of carrying through traffic and the secondary purpose of providing access to abutting property. (Amended April 11, 1991)

OWNER : The owner of record as shown by the records in the Hampshire County Registry of Deeds or Land Court.

PLAN, DEFINITIVE : A proposed, detailed plan of a subdivision submitted by the applicant to be recorded in the Registry of Deeds or Land Court when approved by the Planning Board.

PLAN, PRELIMINARY : A plan of a subdivision submitted by the applicant showing sufficient information to form a clear basis for discussion and clarification of its general contents and for the preparation of a definitive Plan.

SUBDIVISION : "Subdivision" shall generally mean the division of a tract of land into two or more lots and shall include re-subdivision, and, when appropriate to the context, shall relate to the process of subdivision of the land or territory subdivided. Subdivision and divisions of land that do not constitute a subdivision are further defined in the Massachusetts Subdivision Control Law, MGL c. 41, Sec. 81-K to Sec. 81-GG inclusive and applicable case law. (Amended April 11, 1991)

SUBDIVISION CONTROL LAW : Sections 81-K to 81-GG, inclusive, of Chapter 41, of the General Laws of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, entitled "Subdivision Control" as last amended.

SUBDIVISION, TYPE I : A subdivision for residential purposes. (Amended April 11, 1991)


SUBDIVISION, TYPE II : A subdivision for business or industrial purposes. (Amended April 11, 1991)


SURVEYOR : Any person who is registered or otherwise legally authorized by the State of Massachusetts to perform land surveying services.

WAY : A right-of-way or means of access to a lot. A public way is a way which has been accepted by, and the land owned by, the City of Northampton or by other means created as a public street. Any other way (private way) is a way over land which is owned by a private party, but which is set forth by deed covenant, deed description, or other means as a private way.