About the Zoning Board of Appeals

The Zoning Board of Appeals (ZBA) elects a chair and a clerk from the five-member board. The powers of the ZBA are defined in Paragraph 5210 of the Zoning Bylaw. Primary powers of the Zoning Board of Appeals are as follows:

  • Issuance of special permits (paragraph 5211) provided for in accordance with the provisions of Section 5300 of the Zoning Bylaw (PDF).
  • To hear and decide petitions for variances from terms of the Bylaw. Granting of variances from the Bylaw requires that the ZBA find that an applicant meets four strict conditions before granting the variance.
  • Hold public hearings for each application before the board.
  • Hearing notices must be published in the newspaper 14 days prior to the hearing. In addition, the formal notification must be sent to any and all abutters of the property affected by the request.

Public Hearings

Public hearings and decisions of the Board have specified time schedules. In the case of a special permit, the hearing must be conducted within 65 days. Once the hearing is closed, the ZBA must render a decision within 90 days. Hearings may be continued by the Board to receive additional information, site walks, recommendations from other boards, etc. An applicant then has 20 days after the ZBA decision has been filed with the Town Clerk to appeal that decision to the Courts if the applicant is aggrieved; whereas the application for a variance starts the clock of the 100-day period to a decision from the date of application. 

Special Permits

The 20-day appeal period to a higher authority remains the same as for special permits. Special permits and variances must be recorded (paragraph 5390C of the Zoning Bylaw (PDF)) and must be acted on within a two-year period. Extensions may be granted by the ZBA upon written requests. Denial of a special permit or variance restricts a re-application within a two-year period as specified in the Bylaw under paragraph 5390B.

Enforcement of the Zoning Bylaw

Enforcement of the Zoning Bylaw as provided for in the Zoning Bylaw is the duty of the Building Inspector. The Board of Selectmen appoints the Building Inspector. Duties of the Zoning Administrator are defined in Massachusetts General Laws, chapter 40A, Section 13. Any decision of the Zoning Administrator may be appealed to the ZBA as provided for in the Massachusetts General Laws, Chapter 40A, Section 14, within 30 days after the decision.