Downloadable Forms & Procedures

The following is meant as a guide to assist the applicant in appearing before the Zoning Board of Appeals.

Commonly asked questions about variances and findings:

When can I go for a finding?
  1. When you have a non-conforming use, it may be enlarged or extended for the same purpose if the ZBA finds that the extension or enlargement is not substantially more detrimental to the neighborhood.
  2. When you have an existing non-conforming single-family or two-family structure with respect to setbacks or density, they may be enlarged or extended if the ZBA finds that the proposed nonconformity is not substantially more detrimental to the neighborhood and is appropriate in scale and mass for the neighborhood.
When is a variance necessary?
When a use or structure is conforming, applicants must demonstrate that:
  1. There are circumstances relating to soil conditions, shape or topography of the land of structures for which they seek a variance.
  2. Such circumstances especially affect such land or structures but do not generally affect the zoning district in which the land or structures are located.
  3. Owing to such circumstances, a literal enforcement of the provisions of the by-law would involve substantial hardship, financial or otherwise, to the applicant.
  4. The desired relief may be granted without substantial detriment to the public good and without detracting from the purpose and intent of the Zoning By-law of the district in which the variance is being sought.
Q.How may I appeal to the Permit Granting Authority?
An administrative appeal shall be taken within thirty (30) days from the date of the order of decision that is being appealed. Please detail the specific relief requested.  Procedures:
  1. Application shall contain:
    1. Name and address of applicant;
    2. The nature of the application (administrative appeal, request for finding, or variance);
    3. List of abutters within 300 feet;
    4. A plan prepared by a land surveyor or engineer registered in the State of Massachusetts, drawn at a scale suitable to show the detail of the land and any proposed structures. It will include the date, name of applicant, north arrow, and person who drew the plan.
In the case of variances affecting setback, distance from rear lot lines, and frontages, the plans should include adjoining properties that may be affected by the proposal. When a the applicant is seeking a variance for construction of a deck, porch, pool, shed or other similar structure for which the Building Inspector would not require a surveyed plot plan, the applicant may draw their own plan. The plan shall be at a scale of 1” equal to 40’ and shall be 8 ½” by 11” in size. The applicant shall date and sign the plan. In the case of variances that affect the use of buildings, the applicant shall furnish a floor plan of the buildings in question with the scale of 1” equal to 4’.

Hearing, Notice and Decision.
  1. The Zoning Board of Appeals shall hold a public hearing within sixty-five (65) days after the receipt of an application.
  2. Notice of the Public Hearing will be published in a newspaper of general circulation in the town once in each of two successive weeks, the first publication to be not less than fourteen (14) days before the hearing, and by posting such notice in a conspicuous place in Town Hall.
  3. Notice shall be sent by mail, postage prepaid, to the petitioner, abutters, owners of land directly opposite on any public or private street or way, owners of land within three hundred (300) feet of the property line as they appear on the most recent tax list including those in another town, the Planning Boards of all abutting towns.
  4. The Zoning Board of Appeals shall act within one hundred (100) days (or any agreed upon extended time) following the public hearing. 
  5. If an application is granted by the Board, the variance or finding shall lapse after a period of not more than one year from the date of filing the Board’s decision in the office of the Town Clerk, unless substantial use or construction has begun, except for good cause.