Store Size Cap – Westford, MA

Even though Westford, MA beat back a Wal-Mart in 1994, the Town Meeting soon after added future protection by prohibiting the building of large retail developments (over 60,000 sq. ft.) and making it harder to build 30,000 – 60,000 sq. ft. developments by requiring that they apply for special permits, allowing time for citizen input and review by planning boards.


Article25: It was voted 285 (yes) – 1 (no) (2/3 vote required) that the Town will amend the Westford Zoning By-law in accordance with General Laws, Ch. 4OA as follows:

The Town of Westford’s Master Plan Committee is in the process af developing a Plan for the economic, cultural and physical future of the Town. In the course of its discussions, the Committee has identified as a major concern the possibility that construction of large retail developments would be inconsistent with the goals and recommendations of the Master Plan. Therefore, the Master Plan Committee has determined that the Town’s future will be best served by limiting construction of large retail developments, until the Master Plan is finalized and accepted by the Town.

Thefollowing amendment is intended to prevent construction of a very large retail development during the interim period, and to provide a long and more thorough review period for retail buildings between 30,000 and 60,00O square feet.

Amend the Zoning Bylaw, Section 173-11, "General requirements; use regulations symbols explained," by adding the following new paragraph 2:

C.Interim provisions for large retail buildings. The following provisions shall supercede the notations in Sect. 173-13, Table of Use Regulations, and shall remain in effect through December 31, 1995, unless sooner amended or repealed. If at the time of the repeal or expiration of these provisions the Town has adopted amendments to the Zoning Bylaw that apply to these uses, any regulations that were superseded by this section and that are not incorporated in the amended Bylaw shall be considered to have been repealed as of the date of adoption of this section.

(1) These provisions shall apply to buildings that are used primarily for one or more of the uses listed in Sect. 173-13, subsection D, items 91(, (2), (3), (4), (8) & (13).

(2) Buildings larger than 60,000 square feet gross floor area shall be prohibited.

(3) In districts where Sect. 173-13 indicates that such uses are permitted (P) or allowed under a special permit (SPA OR SPB), buildings with between 30,000 and 60,000 square gross floor area shall instead be allowed under a special permit by the Planning Board. Notwithstanding Sect. 173-22D(4), all requirements of Sect. 173-22, Site plan review, shall apply to such buildings except those that are to be approved under the special permite procedures for planned commercial developments and planned industrial developments.

(4) For purposes of this section, a "wholesale club" or similar use for which a majority of the customers make their purchases at the site shall be considered a retail use under Sect. 173-13 D(1).

(5) During the period in which this section is in effect, any application for a building permit or special permit, and any plan submitted to the Planning Board under M.G.D. Chap. 41, Sect. 81o (definitive plan) or 81S (preliminary plan), shall be subject to this section.

(Finance Committee Recommendation not Required)
(Selectmen Approved)
(Planning Board Approved (4-1))

Follow Stacy Mitchell:
Stacy Mitchell

Stacy Mitchell is co-director of the Institute for Local Self-Reliance and directs its Independent Business Initiative, which produces research and designs policy to counter concentrated corporate power and strengthen local economies.