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Zoning Board Of Appeals Frequently Asked Questions

How long does the process take?

It takes approximately a minimum of 3 months from the time the application is filed with the Zoning Board to the end of the statutory appeal period. (See explanation #9 in General Filing Requirements of when the appeal period starts.) M.G.L. Ch. 40A allows the ZBA 100 days from the date of filing a petition for a variance and 90 days from the close of the public hearing for a special permit to file a written decision with the Town Clerk.

Do I need a certified plot plan?

Yes, it is imperative. The majority of applications to appear before the Zoning Board deal with dimensional requirements as set forth in Section 4.1.2 (Table of Dimensional Requirements). Therefore, it is essential to submit a certified plot plan as required in #3 of the General Filing Requirements. Failure to submit an accurate & complete plan may disable the Board from granting appropriate relief.

When does the appeal period start/finish?

The appeal period starts when the written decision is filed with the Town Clerk’s office. It does not start after the vote on the night of the hearing or at the deliberation meeting after site views. (See #9 of the General Filing Requirements.)

Can I file for a building permit before the appeal period expires?

You may apply for a building permit prior to the expiration of the appeal period. The Building Inspectors may review your permit application prior to the appeal period expiration. However, you will not be issued a building permit until after it expires.

If I need relief from other Town Boards, can I file simultaneously with my zoning application?

You may file with multiple Boards simultaneously. However, you must obtain the necessary relief from all Boards & all conditions must be met in order to execute the project.

What are the setbacks for my zoning district?

Generally, minimum setbacks & other dimensional restrictions can be found in Appendix A, Table 2, Section4.1.2 (Table of Dimensional Requirements) of the Zoning By Law. Setbacks are not quoted over the telephone because each lot/project is unique. Please bring a plot plan into the office where we’ll be happy to answer your questions.

Are fences subject to setback requirements?

Only if the fence is to be erected on the intersection of streets is there a setback requirement as set forth in Section of the Zoning By Law.

What are the allowed uses in the (insert district) zoning district?

The allowed uses for all zoning districts are found in Appendix A, Table 1, Section 3.1.3 (Table of Use Regulations). Generally, any use not specifically listed in the Table is not an allowed use and would require a petition for a variance from the Zoning Board.

Is this a buildable lot?

In order to determine whether a specific lot is buildable, you must bring a plot plan into the office and speak with all divisions: Health, Planning, Conservation, Zoning, & Building. We cannot make such a determination by telephone.

How long is a variance / special permit valid?

The relief granted by the Zoning Board as a variance is valid for 1 year and as a special permit for 2 years from the date the written decision is filed with the Town Clerk. An extension may be granted once, upon application to the ZBA prior to the expiration of either the variance/special permit, for a maximum of 6 months. (See #11 of the General Filing Requirements.)

Zoning Board of Appeals