Plans for a new bank proposed to be built along Bay Road will go before two Hamilton land use boards this week.
Patrick Reffett, Hamilton’s Director of Planning and Inspections, said the plans from the Institution for Savings are scheduled to reviewed by the Hamilton Planning Board on Tuesday night, where the board will begin to form its recommendation to the Zoning Board of Appeals. The Planning Board meeting starts at 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday in the Memorial Room at Hamilton Town Hall and is open to the public.
The Zoning Board of Appeals will hear the project presentation at its meeting on Wednesday night. The ZBA is the permitting board for the project, according to Reffett, and will get a recommendation from the Planning Board. The ZBA meets at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, Aug. 5 in the Memorial Room at Hamilton Town Hall. The meeting is open to the public.
A complete copy of the ZBA application is attached at the link below.
Some questions and answers about the proposal:
What is the address of the proposed new bank?
545 Bay Road (Route 1A), at the corner of Bridge Street on the current site of Hamilton Gardens.
What is proposed?
A new full-service retail bank and lending office for the Institution for Savings, according to a press release issued by the Bank in June. It is planned to have a drive-thru window and a new parking configuration that does not require drivers to back out on to Bay Road.
Is the property within the Hamilton Historic District?
No, the property is not within the town’s historic district.
Why is a new bank planned for the property?
The bank is “a growing financial concern” on the North Shore and wants to improve convenience to its customers that live in Hamilton and had to travel outside the town to conduct business and also hopes to open new accounts with local residents, according to Reffett.
What is the property currently zoned?
The property, as a garden center, is a pre-existing, non-conforming use as a commercial business on a residentially zoned property. The underlying zoning is R-1A – intended for single-family, residential use with 20,000 square foot lots.
How has a commercial business been able to operate on a residentially zoned property?
Commercial uses were in place on the property before the town of Hamilton adopted zoning and prescribed residential zoning for the property and the surrounding area.
What decisions do the Zoning Board of Appeals need to make?
The major consideration for the Zoning Board of Appeals is called a Section 6 Finding – which comes from Mass General Law 40A – Section 6. It allows pre-existing, non-conforming properties to be altered if there is a finding by the ZBA that the proposed changes to the property “shall not be substantially more detrimental than the existing non-conforming use to the neighborhood,” according to Reffett.
How will the board make its decision?
The applicant must prove to the ZBA that the impact from items such as traffic and drainage and the impact on utilities, for example, have not been increased. Impact studies used to make the decision are provided by the applicant and also studied by peer review experts that are hired by the town of Hamilton, with the cost being paid by the applicant. The town has already hired a multi-disciplinary engineering firm – the Beat Group – to evaluate the impacts of the project and make a report to the ZBA. The Institution for Savings has provided the money already and the evaluation process is underway.
Who else will look at the plans?
Town officials, such as the Police Chief, Fire Chief, DPW Director and the Planning and Inspections Director are evaluating the submitted plans.
What are some other considerations in the decision-making process?
Site design is an important aspect of the review process, according to Reffett. The bank project proposes to meet the ordinary zoning requirements such as building setbacks, and landscaping requirements that the current property does not.