Public Hearing Schedule and Technical Reviews
As early as possible, the ZBA needs to identify the key issues associated with each project, determine whether peer review consultants will be needed, and develop a schedule that will allow the board to close the hearing within 180 days. The 180-day deadline in the Chapter 40B regulations can be extend¬ed if the developer agrees, and usually the developer will agree if substantial progress has been made. However, ZBAs should not start the public hearing assuming that an extension will be granted at some point in the future. If the ZBA develops a tight project review schedule and the developer responds to reasonable information requests from the ZBA and peer review consultants, 180 days should be enough time to complete the hearing process.
The workload of ZBAs varies widely across the state. ZBAs that serve as special permit granting au-thority for several types of applications can be booked ahead for many weeks; others meet on a more limited or an as-needed basis. For ZBAs that tend to have a full docket on regular meeting nights, it usually works best to schedule special meetings to conduct the public hearing for a comprehensive permit. That way, more routine matters and small projects will not have to compete for meeting time with a potentially larger, more controversial application.