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Based on the information in the application to the Zoning Board of Appeals (ZBA), a legal notice is submitted to The Cape Cod Times. Hearing notifications are mailed to abutters. Plans and other materials are made available, so that the public can see the information filed with the ZBA online (search properties by street address). Paper copies of application materials are provided to Board Members, so they can review the information prior to and during the hearing.
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You do not need to reply to the hearing notification. You may choose to send comments in support or in opposition via letter (ATTN ZBA, Town of Yarmouth, 1146 Route 28, South Yarmouth, MA 02664) or email to the ZBA Office Administrator: email@example.com It is helpful to include the petition number and property address listed on the hearing notification. If you attend the hearing, you can provide your comments at the hearing. The Board considers these comments in rendering their decision. Prior to the hearing, you can view the information filed at the Zoning Board of Appeals office (lower level of Town Hall, Monday-Friday, 8:30am-4:30pm) or you can see the information filed with the ZBA online (search properties by street address).
For each petition, the Board Chair reads the agenda item into the record. The petitioner and/or their representative is asked to identify themselves for the record and make their presentation to the Board. The Board asks questions of the petitioner. The Board Chair asks if any audience members wish to speak. Correspondence received about the petition is admitted into the record. Then, the Board Chair closes the public input portion of the hearing. The Board discusses and deliberates the request. The petitioner may choose to withdraw part or all of the petition prior to the Board's vote. If necessary, the petition can be continued to a future hearing and a decision can be made at a later date. Otherwise, a decision is made at the hearing. The Board may place conditions on the granting of a Special Permit and/or Variance.
The Board Chair or the petitioner's representative (i.e., attorney) drafts the written decision. The decision is reviewed/approved by the Board Chair, then filed with the Town Clerk. Decision notification postcards are mailed to abutters. Any person aggrieved by the decision has 20 days from the date the decision is filed with the Town Clerk to appeal the decision. After the 20-day appeal period, the Town Clerk certifies the decision. The applicant is notified that the certified decision is ready for pickup. The applicant records the decision at the Barnstable County Registry of Deeds. The applicant returns a copy of the recorded decision to the Zoning Board of Appeals Office and the Building Department (lower level of Town Hall, Monday-Friday, 8:30am-4:30pm). The Building Department may not issue a building permit or occupancy permit without receiving a copy of the recorded decision.
Within 20 days from the date the decision is filed with the Town Clerk, you may appeal the decision at Barnstable County Superior Court or Land Court in Boston and must provide a copy of the complaint to the Yarmouth Town Clerk (so the Town Clerk knows that the decision should not be certified). Appeals procedures are outlined in M.G.L. Ch. 40A §17.
A Special Permit is required generally if your structure is non-conforming and you wish to make an alteration or extension to it. The Board of Appeals approval or special exceptions shall not be granted unless the applicant demonstrates that "no undue nuisance, hazard, or congestion will be created and that there will be no substantial harm to the established or future character of the neighborhood nor of the town". A Variance is required if you want to do something with your property which is generally prohibited by the Zoning Bylaw. The applicant must show a hardship imposed by the bylaw which is caused by a unique condition of the lot, or structure, and the hardship is owing to circumstances relating to the soil conditions, shape or topography of the land or structure and especially affecting the land or structures, but not affecting generally the zoning district in which it is located. Relief may be granted without substantial detriment to the public good, and without nullifying or substantially derogating from the intent or purpose of such ordinance or bylaw.
The most common reason why you need a Special Permit is that the proposed structure or altered structure does not meet setback requirements in the Zoning Bylaw. So, you may need "relief from the bylaw" in the form of a Special Permit or Variance. Typically, the Building Department refers you to the Zoning Board of Appeals when you apply for a building permit. Learn more about requirements for a Special Permit or Variance in the Zoning Bylaw.
The appeal process depends on the project. You may need approval from other boards and committees prior to a Zoning Board of Appeals hearing. You can help by providing all the necessary and up-to-date information, including Certified Plot Plans. See the Zoning Board of Appeals application about the information or contact the ZBA Office Administrator at 508-398-2231 ext. 1285 or firstname.lastname@example.org