What to Expect in a Public Hearing?

1. Public Notice

Abutters and others who have expressed interest in keeping abreast of Zoning Board of Appeals cases receive a letter, via the US Postal System, informing them of a scheduled public hearing. This “Notice” is also published in the legal notice section of The Republican newspaper.  This information may also be found under the Local Notice Classifieds on MassLive:  If someone desires to express their opinion regarding a matter before the Zoning Board of Appeals, but is unable to be present at a meeting, persons of interest are welcome to submit written comment via email or letter to the Department of Planning and Community Development. Comments are provided by the department to the ZBA for consideration. Applicants/Petitioners are required to be present at the Board of Appeals hearing

2. Public Hearing

 At the first hearing, the applicant will describe their intent, or give testimony, to the Zoning Board of Appeals.  Plans that have been submitted by the petitioner to the Department of Planning and Community Development were made available to the ZBA in advance of the hearing so its members could review the information prior to the meeting and be well prepared for discussion of the petition at the hearing. During the hearing, the Board of Appeals may also consider any comments regarding the petition received from other municipal departments. Written comments from parties of interest unable to attend the hearing may be taken under advisement by the Board of Appeals. Those in attendance may voice comment in support or against the petition to the Board of Appeals. All are requested to please maintain civil, respectful, and courteous discourse and behavior which is conducive to the democratic and harmonious airing of concerns and decision making. The Board may pose questions to the applicant/petitioner. Since the Board often hears several projects in an evening, hearings last a specified period of time. Should additional information to render a decision be required, the ZBA and applicant/petitioner may agree to continue the hearing to a definitive date and time.

 3. Close of Hearing

After all testimony is duly considered by the ZBA, the hearing is closed and the Board of Appeals votes on the specific matter that has come before them.

  • Staff prepares the Decision for an Appeal or Variance within fourteen (14) days of the close of hearing.
  • The Decision is delivered to the office of the Town Clerk by staff where it is received and date stamped to start the 20 day appeal period.
  • Occasionally, the hearing process is delayed due to weather, the absence of a Board member or at the applicant's request. To verify that a hearing is being held on a scheduled date, you can call the Planning and Community Development office at 413-525-5100 x 1700 or check the Agenda and Minutes page
  • If a Public Hearing is continued to a definitive date or delayed because of matters beyond the control of the Department of Planning and Community Development, abutter notices will not be resent, nor will the public hearing be re-advertised in the local newspaper.

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1. What Matters are Considered by the Board of Appeals?
2. What to Expect in a Public Hearing?