How do I obtain a variance or file an administrative appeal?

Variances are subject to very specific hardship criteria in Massachusetts General Laws, Chapter 40A and are difficult to obtain.

Variances and administrative appeals are under the authority of the Zoning Board of Appeals. The Planning Board Office merely acts as the processing agent for the Zoning Board of Appeals.

The steps for applying for a variance or an administrative appeal are:

  1. Obtain and complete application forms. Both a variance application (PDF) and an administrative appeal application (PDF) are available to download.
  2. Submit required copies of application forms, plans and documents and application fees to the Planning Board Office. With an administrative appeal, the written denial that is being appealed must be included in the submitted materials.
  3. The Planning Board Office will schedule a public hearing in consultation with the Zoning Board of Appeals Chair.
  4. The Planning Board Office will prepare and have published and posted a Notice of Public Hearing. The Town Reminder will bill the applicant directly.
  5. The Planning Board Office obtains from the Board of Assessors a certified list of abutters and sends a notice of the public hearing to each of the abutters via certified mail.
  6. The Zoning Board of Appeals conducts the public hearing.
  7. Upon conclusion of the public hearing, either at that meeting or a subsequent posted public meeting, the Zoning Board of Appeals votes on the application.
  8. Shortly after the Zoning Board of Appeals votes on the application, a notice of the decision is filed with the Town Clerk.