Board of Appeals Guide

Variances, Special Permits, Appeals:
  • Variances are authorizations to use land or structures in a manner that is otherwise prohibited by the Zoning By-Law.
  • Dimensional variances relate to such zoning requirements as area, frontage, width or depth.
  • Use variances relate to regulation of categories of uses in particular zoning districts.
  • Special permits are authorization to use land or structures for a specific use which is expressly permitted by the special permit, provided general guidelines as detailed in the By-Law and specific conditions arising from the review process itself are met. Special permits are designed as a flexible tool to assure that the use is in harmony with the intent and purposes of the By-Law.
  • Site plan approval / Architectural Review - requires the Zoning Board to review and approve all proposed business / commercial site plan layouts and architecture for By-Law requirements as well as the proper engineering standards and mechanics.
  • Appeals are reviews of the decisions or orders of Zoning Code Enforcement officers by the Board of Appeals. The Board may uphold, reverse or modify the official’s decision. Appeals must be filed within 30 days of the date of the decision or order.
To determine if you need zoning relief:
  • Refer to the Zoning By-Law at the Town Clerk’s office at Town Hall or Public Library; or
  • Inquire of the Building & Zoning Commissioner at the Building Commissioner’s Office; or
  • Consult an engineer or attorney familiar with Marshfield’s regulations.
To file a zoning application:
  • Study the section of the Zoning By-Law, which gives the review standards for special permits, section 10.12, and variances, section 11.17. Be sure to address these points in the materials you file with the Board.
  • Fill out the application forms available at the Building Commissioner’s Office or On-Line at (xx Link xx)completely and collect the supporting documentation (abutters list, deed/owner’s authorization, plans etc.).
  • You will need to allow a few days for the Assessors to certify your abutters list prior to filing.
  • File one copy of the entire package with the Town Clerk and pay the filing fee at that time. A check made payable to the “Town of Marshfield” is required.
  • Leave the specified number of duplicate copies of the application package with the Zoning Aide at the Board of Appeals office.
  • It is likely that the Board’s Zoning Aide will be able to tell you your hearing date at that time.
Hearing Schedule:
  • By law the Board of Appeals must open its hearing on your application not later than 65 days after the filing date. To allow time for the legal advertising and notice, hearings are generally scheduled within 30 days.
  • Hearings are held on Tuesday evenings, unless otherwise noticed, in Hearing Room 2, on the second floor, at the Town Hall, 870 Moraine Street. All meetings are open to the public.
  • Notice of the hearing will be advertised in the Marshfield Mariner for two consecutive weeks, with the first publication 14 days prior to the hearing date. Notices to direct abutters, abutters to abutters if within 300 feet of the subject property, are mailed at least two weeks before the hearing.
Decision Deadlines:
  • The Board of Appeals must vote its decision on a variance not later than 100 days from the Application filing date and on a special permit no later than 90 days following the close of the public hearing. The Marshfield Board of Appeals must file its written decision within 14 days of the vote.
  • Any of the statutory hearing and decision deadlines may be extended by mutual agreement of the Board and the applicant. Notice of such agreement is filed with the Zoning Office Aide by means of letter submitted from the Applicant to the Zoning Board.
  • At the same time the Board’s written decision is filed with the Town Clerk, copies of it will be mailed to the applicant, and property owner if other than the applicant. Notice of the decision is mailed to, applicant, property owner, and abutters.
Court Appeals:
  • Zoning decisions may be appealed to Massachusetts Superior Court during the twenty-day period after the date the written decision is filed with the Town Clerk. During that time, no construction permits will be issued; no work may commence.
Decision Recording:
  • When the 20-day appeal period has expired without appeal, a certified copy of the Board’s decision must be filed with the Registry of Deeds or Land Court in Plymouth for a nominal filing fee. The Building Commissioner will ask to see evidence of that recording when you apply for a Building Permit.
  • The Marshfield Town Clerk’s office will prepare a certified copy of the decision for you at no cost.
Lapse of Zoning Relief:
  • If the rights granted by a variance are not exercised within one year of the decision filing date, the variance lapses. The Board of Appeals may grant an extension of up to 6 months, provided the extension is requested prior to expiration of the variance.
  • The rights granted by a special permit lapse after two years, if not exercised. Special permits may be extended for good cause, at the Board’s discretion, after new notice and hearing.
  • The Board of Appeals maintains an office in the Town Hall, 870 Moraine Street. Office hours are Monday through Friday 9:30 a.m to 2:30 p.m. The telephone number is 781.834.5557.