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Multifamily homes may change under new plan

The building at 24-26 North St., shown here the day after fire gutted it in February 2009, was later demolished. Its lot remains vacant. (click for larger version)
September 11, 2011
SOUTHBRIDGE — To most people, watching subdivision rules get amended is exceptionally dull.

But Southbridge residents might want to keep tabs on the current process to do just that, because it could affect whether they can rebuild their homes after a fire or other disaster.

According to Building Inspector Nick Tortis, current state law prohibits rebuilding anything that's 50-percent destroyed or worse if it sits on a parcel that does not meet the minimum size requirements — in this case, 5,000 square feet with 50 feet of "frontage" on a street. Legally, such properties are termed "nonconforming."

He's proposing creating a special permit process that would enable rebuilding some of those buildings, but "only one- and two-family homes, don't do it for multi-families," on at least 4,000 square feet. In effect, if a fire were to claim something bigger on most downtown lots, it wouldn't be rebuildable at all.

"Every multi-family building built before 1985 does not conform," Tortis said.

For more on this story, please see tomorrow's Southbridge Evening News.

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