Turning Mill NCD Guidelines


The Neighborhood Conservation District (NCD) enabling bylaw (Chapter 78) was approved in Lexington Town Meeting in March 2016. The broad purpose of the bylaw is to give property owners a tool to preserve Lexington's distinct neighborhoods as well as provide more stability and predictability within a neighborhood.

In April 2018, 113 parcels within the Turning Mill neighborhood, which included the streets Dewey, Demar, Gould, Grimes, Mountain, Partridge, Turning Mill, and Jeffrey, received approval from Lexington Town Meeting to form an NCD via the bylaw Chapter 78A.

Since the original construction of the Turning Mill neighborhood beginning in the late 1950s through the late 1960s, residents have enjoyed the woodland setting, the creative and thoughtful architecture as well as a strong community bond. These characteristics were largely untouched for 50 years. By the early 21st century, economic prosperity and the accelerating pace of reconstruction in town began to cause neighbors concern that the unique neighborhood character was under threat and wanted to preserve it.

For this reason, these guidelines are not simply a prescriptive design manual of "do's" and "don'ts". Reasonable judgment is involved, from both the applicant and Commission. Certain principles are fundamental, such as the use of quality, preferably natural, materials that preserve the integrity and character of the building and site and choosing design elements that keep with the neighborhood aesthetic.

Purpose of Chapter 78A

Building upon Chapter 78 (the enabling NCD bylaw), Chapter 78A was established to:

  • Recognize the unique and distinctive character of the Turning Mill neighborhood including architectural design consistency and modest scale of its Mid-Century Modern Buildings and their materials, the careful siting of Buildings in a woodland landscape that retains the natural topography, augmented with native trees, shrubs and plantings that sustain wildlife and provide a feeling of privacy
  • Conserve and preserve Turning Mill's existing Buildings and encourage construction and alteration that complements and is compatible with those buildings and structures and their setting and character
  • Provide residents and property owners with the opportunity to participate in planning the future and dynamic improvements of the Turning Mill neighborhood
  • Promote wider public knowledge and appreciation for the Turning Mill neighborhood by serving as an information resource on the history of the neighborhood and on compatible materials, methods, and options for caring for and maintaining Mid-Century Modern houses and landscapes
  • Enhance the public welfare by offering current and future residents of Lexington the opportunity to live and work in a significant and historic Mid-century modern neighborhood

Boundary Map

See a Boundary Map of the Turning Mill NCD as recorded with the Middlesex South Registry of Deeds.

Application Materials

The application form (PDF) can be filled out online, then printed and signed, or a paper copy can be obtained from the Department of Land Use, Housing, and Development in the Town Office Building. Directions for completion and necessary additional documentation are included with the application.

Guideline Applicability

Under Chapter 78A, the Turning Mill NCD Commission must issue a Certificate of Non-Applicability, Certificate of Compatibility or Certificate of Hardship before any external alterations can be made.

Reviewable construction projects, which would require a Certificate of Compatibility or Hardship, meet the criteria below and visible from a public way:

  • Addition or construction of over 200 square feet or 10 feet in height visible from the public way
  • Full/Partial Demolition of structure greater than 200 square feet

There is no regulation of temporary installations of buildings, structures, signs or other exterior architectural features. Temporary is defined as 45 days or less.

If the proposed project does not meet the criteria above, the applicant would apply for a Certificate of Non-Applicability. This application would be reviewed by the Chair of the NCD Commission and/or the full Commission to confirm its non-applicability and returned to the applicant within 14 days.

A building permit will not be issued without a Certificate of Non-Applicability, Certificate of Compatibility or Certificate of Hardship for properties in the NCD. During construction and before a Certificate of Occupancy is issued, building inspectors review work to confirm compliance with the Certificate of Compatibility. Violating the provisions of the Certificate is subject to fine as defined in Chapter 78.