Model Bylaws


Several model bylaws are available for communities seeking to better protect natural resources and open space. While these model bylaws should not be adopted without tailoring to a specific town's needs, they may provide a starting point and answer some questions planners and regulators may have as they consider appropriate bylaw language.

  • Wetlands and Wildlife Habitat - This model bylaw provides guidance for towns that wish to update their local wetlands bylaws and wetlands regulations and provides current guidance on wetlands protection techniques, fee assessment, and mitigation measures.

  • Land Clearing, Grading and Protection of Specimen Trees - This model zoning bylaw is designed to link with site plan review bylaws currently in place in most Cape towns. The bylaw should prove valuable to towns that have struggled with how to control the degree of site clearing and tree removal for development projects.

  • Open Space Residential Development (Cluster) - This model bylaw is an in-depth zoning bylaw enabling towns to permit cluster-type subdivisions. The bylaw incorporates provisions common to typical cluster regulations (e.g., lot configuration and open space set-aside) but also includes several provisions that are not included in many Cape cluster regulations, including mandatory cluster requirements, site design considerations and restrictions on re-use of common open space.

  • Transfer of Development Rights - This zoning bylaw provides an innovative method for protecting a town's — and the Cape's — natural and built resources. The bylaw sets up a procedure for designating portions of the community that residents want protected and allows for the transfer of the rights to build in those areas to other, less sensitive and more "urban" locations within the town, or Cape Cod.

The Commonwealth of Massachusetts also provides guidance on bylaw development, especially related to "smart growth" principles. See the web site of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and its Massachusetts Smart Growth Toolkit.


Cattails along marsh edge

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