Massachusetts Zoning Laws and Construction Permits

With temperatures warming up from the historic winter snowfall, and grass starting to grow brightly green, many homeowners and prospective homeowners may be thinking about starting construction projects.

Whether you are merely seeking to improve your current property, or build an entirely new home altogether, you may need the help of a Massachusetts real estate lawyer in order to ensure that you can secure all of the proper required permits that may be necessary in order to pursue your plans.

Many homeowners may be surprised to learn that they may not be able to do whatever they wish with their property. This is because various land use and zoning regulations apply to properties. These laws set forth a regulatory scheme that provides restrictions not only on the type of use for which a property may be used, but also regarding the type and size of structures that may be built, maximum specifications, and various other specifications regarding any new buildings one may wish to pursue. Zoning codes may also address whether homeowners may keep certain kinds of pets, such as chickens for example.

Zoning codes vary by municipality, and generally speaking they provide a straightforward infrastructure regarding what sorts of uses are acceptable. If a landowner wishes to pursue a plan that is nonconforming within the relevant zoning laws, he or she will have to pursue a variance to the zoning code, which is typically by means of securing a permit.

In addition to seeking a permit for a nonconforming type of structure, occasionally a homeowner may wish to seek a variance in order to engage in a different type of land use category. For example, one popular sort of business taking hold in some major municipalities is a type of restaurant that is run out of someone’s backyard. If you live in a residential area, running a restaurant as a business may be considered a commercial activity, and it may therefore be technically considered an unlawful use. You may wish to seek a variance, which could potentially allow for such a use and could create parameters for hours of operation and the like.

Generally speaking, an application for a variance or a permit requires a local hearing, which gives individuals from the community an opportunity to present any concerns that they may have. Plans will also likely need to be reviewed by at least one governmental official or board. If a permit or variance is denied, there is typically some sort of appeals process to which you can apply.

At Pulgini & Norton, our land use attorneys can advise you in zoning issues near Boston, including how to obtain permits. If you want to make a change to your property, we can discuss whether the change requires a permit or variance from the local zoning board. If the use requires zoning board approval, we can prepare and present your proposed use to the board. We work with clients in Braintree, Weymouth, and New Bedford. Call us today at 781-843-2200 for a consultation, or contact us online.

More Blog Posts:

U.S. Department of Justice Announces Settlement in Massachusetts Fair Housing Discrimination Case, Massachusetts Real Estate Lawyer Blog, published May 7, 2015

Bankruptcy Court Rules Against Bank in Homeowner Mortgage Case, Massachusetts Real Estate Lawyer Blog, published April 29, 2015

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