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40B and Comprehensive Permits and Compliance

What does a Comprehensive Permit include? Under Chapter 40B, the ZBA has authority to grant all of the approvals that would otherwise trigger separate applications under local bylaws or ordinances. The ZBA also has authority to grant waivers of local requirements if requested by the developer and necessary to construct the proposed project. The ZBA’s mechanism for taking these actions is a single comprehensive (all-encompassing) permit, the purpose of which is to expedite the approval process and facilitate construction of low- or moderate-income housing. The ZBA’s jurisdiction includes zoning, subdivision regulations, and other types of local bylaws or ordinances and regulations, e.g., a local historic district bylaw, earth removal, storm water management, or local wetlands regulations. However, the ZBA does not have the authority to waive state requirements. Therefore, the Conservation Commission retains jurisdiction when a project requires permits under the Massachusetts Wetlands Protection Act, G.L. c. 131, § 40. Similarly, the Board of Health still acts as the permitting authority under Title V of the State Environmental Code, 310 CMR 15.00. The Housing Appeals Committee Appeals Process Chapter 40B gives the Housing Appeals Committee (HAC) authority to adjudicate appeals arising from the ZBA’s denial or conditional approval of comprehensive permits.