Design review: Architectural peer review typically includes a review by a registered professional architect of the proposed buildings, their relationship to and impact on surrounding areas, and ar-chitectural design, e.g., conceptual design drawings of the site plan, exterior elevations of all sides of the proposed building(s), floor plans, landscaping and outdoor lighting plan, open spaces, and
where applicable, outdoor amenities. The architect’s approach to peer review may be guided by the design review criteria in Handbook: Approach to Chapter 40B Design Reviews (2011) prepared for the four subsidizing agencies by The Cecil Group.
The developer is responsible for the reasonable cost of peer reviews necessary to evaluate matters that are properly before the ZBA. To comply with G.L. c. 44, § 53G, the ZBA’s regulations should include basic procurement and contracting procedures, provide for a (limited) appeal process if the devel¬oper disputes the selection of a particular consultant, explain when the escrow account will need to be replenished, and provide for return of unused escrow funds to the developer. Each peer review consultant should have a written contract with a scope of work and prescribed deliverables. The ZBA should not ask the consultant to commence work until the developer has provided the necessary funds. Furthermore, the developer should be told that a delay in funding will mean a delay in peer review services and potentially a delay in completing the public hearing process. This protects the ZBA chair from having to assume the role of a collection agent. The ZBA chair should review a draft of the consultant’s report or ask municipal staff to read the draft and work with the consultant to complete the review. Whenever possible, the peer reviewer should incorporate staff comments or work with staff to resolve differences of opinion.