Statutory Planning Board Duties Under Massachusetts General Laws

MGL Ch. 41, §81A

Establishes planning boards whereby a planning board shall adopt a master plan and an official map of the city or town. The Town of Westport Planning Board provides general planning such as: adopting the Master Plan, assisting in economic development and open space and recreation planning, and also endorsing the housing production plan.

MGL Ch. 41, §§81K-GG,

The Subdivision Control Act, delegates municipal powers chiefly to the Planning Board. The Board adopts subdivision rules for the municipality. The Planning Board also reviews definitive plan submittals with participation from the Board of Health. When the boundary lines of any lot are altered an application must be filed with the Planning Board. There are two types of applications:

  • ANR – If the land has at least 150’ frontage on an existing street, the applicant must file an ANR for endorsement. An ANR simply means that a full subdivision is not required. Endorsement of an ANR does not imply the newly created lot is buildable. The building inspector/zoning enforcement officer makes this determination.
  • Full Subdivision – If the land is being divided into lots that require construction of roadways a full subdivision is required. Unlike an ANR subdivided lots must conform to current zoning.

MGL Ch. 40A, the Zoning Act,

Places the Planning Board in several key roles. Its primary duties include zoning, special permits and site plan review.

ZONING: MGL Ch. 40A, §5

Authorizes it to draft and submit zoning amendments for consideration by the municipality. When a zoning amendment has been put forward, the planning board holds the public hearing and may also report its recommendation to town meeting. The Planning Board provides recommendations on citizen’s petitions for road acceptances.

SPECIAL PERMITS: MGL Ch. 40A, §9

Provides the framework for the Planning Board to serve as the special permit granting authority under Town of Westport Zoning Bylaws Article 11 (Assisted and Independent Living Facilities) and Article 14 (Drive-Through Facilities)

SITE PLAN REVIEW:

The Planning Board serves as the site plan review authority, as provided by the Town of Westport Zoning Bylaws Article 15. The Board review plans for compliance with specific performance standards as identified by the Bylaw and the associated Rules & Regulations.

In addition, the Planning Board is always a "party in interest" in administrative appeals, special permit applications, and variance petitions within the municipality and in adjacent cities and towns and must consent whenever a repetitive petition is considered within two years after initial rejection (MGL ch 40A §16).