Site Plan Review

About Site Plan Reviews

The site plan review process provides a level of review for development proposals that ensures they will meet development policies and regulations as defined in the citywide master plan, neighborhood plans, design guidelines, and zoning code as well as design practices that are commonly accepted within the community. Site plan review allows for a site specific application of design and development policies, taking into account the unique elements of a site's context and how the proposed use or structure will interact with its surroundings.

Site Plan Review Process

The site plan review process was adopted to provide a clear and transparent process for reviewing development proposals of a certain magnitude (Section 11.4.2; Lowell Zoning Ordinance) in order to protect and promote the health, safety, convenience, and general welfare for the inhabitants of Lowell. The Lowell Zoning Ordinance establishes the Planning Board as review authority over projects seeking site plan approval. All projects are subject to a public hearing before the board, and are subject to notice requirements set forth in M.G.L. Chapter 40A Section 11.

Site Plan Approval

After considering the qualities of the specific location, proposed land use, design of building form, grading, egress points, and other aspects of a proposed development project, the Board may grant site plan approval, or approval with conditions, if it finds that the following objectives have been met.
  • Minimize the volume of cut and fill, the number of removed trees 6 inch caliper or larger, the length of removed stone walls, the area of wetland vegetation displaced, the extent of storm water flow increase from the site, soil erosion, and threat of air and water pollution.
  • Maximize pedestrian and vehicular safety on the site, to the site, and egressing from it.
  • Minimize obstruction of scenic views from publicly accessible locations.
  • Minimize visual intrusion by controlling the visibility of parking, storage, or other outdoor service areas viewed from public ways or premises residentially used or zoned.
  • Minimize glare from headlights and lighting intrusion.
  • Minimize unreasonable departure from the character, materials, and scale of buildings in the vicinity, as viewed from public ways and places.
  • Minimize contamination of groundwater from on-site wastewater disposal systems for operations on the premises involving the use, storage, handling, or containment of hazardous substances.
  • Provide adequate access to each structure for fire and service equipment and adequate utilities.
  • Provide storm water drainage consistent with the functional requirements of the Planning Board's Subdivision Rules and Regulations, the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection Storm water Management Policy Handbook: Volume I and Storm water Technical Handbook Volume II, and all other applicable storm water regulations.
  • Ensure compliance with the provisions of this Zoning Ordinance, including the parking, signage, landscaping and environmental performance standards.

Detail Overview of Site Plan Reviews

For a detailed review of Site Plan Review regulations see Section 11.4 Site Plan Review (PDF), of the Lowell Zoning Ordinance.