Zoning Changes to be considered at the Special Town Meeting on June 28



There are three articles on the Town Meeting Warrant that include changes to the Zoning Bylaw.  This is a brief guide to what they include:

Article 3: Summary of Changes to Section 12 of the Zoning Bylaw.

Section 12 is administrative.  It describes the roles and organization of the Building Inspector, Zoning Board of Appeals and Planning Board.  It also explains the process and criteria for reviewing applications for Special Permits and for reviewing site plans for projects that are allowed without a special permit.  This includes site plan review for facilities that are exempt from zoning regulations such as educational and religious institutions. If further spells out guidelines for the ZBA to follow in considering projects to accommodate people with special needs as required by the ADA.  Town Counsel has reviewed these proposed changes and has determined that they are appropriate.  The following table summarizes the changes and compares the proposed provisions to what is currently in the Zoning Bylaw.



New Administrative Section 

Old Administration Section

Inspector of Buildings


Certificate of Occupancy

  • Defines Inspector of Buildings’ role


  • Defines Certificate of Occupancy
  • None


  • Defines Certificate of Occupancy


  • Non-criminal penalties
  • Criminal penalties
  • ($300/day for violations)
  • ($300/day for violations)

Zoning Board of Appeals

  • Defined – no change
  • Updated to align with state law
  • Defined
  • Includes several procedures that are redundant and outdated

Planning Board

  • Defines; establishes structure and powers
  • Provides authority to make regulations and set fees
  • No description of Planning Board

Special Permits


  • Defines authority and criteria
  • Establishes procedures and fees
  • Refers to Section 6 for specific review criteria
  • Defines authority and criteria
  • Establishes procedures and fees
  • Includes outdated review criteria

Site Plan Applicability


  • Defines authority and criteria
  • Establishes procedures and fees
  • Refers to Section 6 for specific review criteria
  • Not included.


(Note:  Site Plan Review was deleted in anticipation of updating Section 12, but the article as postponed due to the late hour. )

Site Plan for Dover Amendment uses (e.g., certain non-profit uses)

  • Defines authority and criteria as legally required
  • Not included.

Request for Reasonable Accommodations under Fair Housing Authority

  • Included as legally required
  • Not included


Article 4:  Reinsertion of Site Plan Review

At last Fall’s Town Meeting, several important provisions (including a new Section 12) were postponed due to the lateness of the hour.  One of the Articles that was approved was the replacement of Section 6 with a new section that included more specific design standards to guide the review of projects.  In deleting Section 6, the procedures for site plan review were removed in anticipation of inserting new Site Plan Review procedures in Section 12.  One of the unforeseen consequences of the postponing the adoption of a new Section 12 was the removal of site plan review from the Zoning Bylaw.  If Town Meeting fails to adopt Article 3 (the new Section 12) at the Special Town Meeting, this article would simply reinsert the old language back into Section 6.  It would not be perfect, but at least it would reinstate the provision.  If Article 3 is adopted, Article 4 will be unnecessary and will be passed over.

Article 5:  Fixing typographical and referencing errors

With all the completed changes to the Zoning Bylaw in the past few years, some errors were inevitable in spite of careful review.  Town Counsel has identified a number of these errors that can be corrected with approval of Town Meeting.  None of these corrections will result in any changes to the intent of the Zoning Bylaw.  They will correct inappropriate references to other sections of the bylaw.

For those who would like more detail on these three articles, please visit the Town’s Website or go online at www.bit.ly/zoningmbts.

The site includes additional detail and explanation and includes a side-by-side comparison of the proposed new language for Section 12 with the existing language.


site plan review, special town, town counsel, www.bit.ly/zoningmbts