Most ZBAs know the statutory timelines for variances, special permits and appeals, but since comprehensive permits are not that common, it is easy to make a procedural error, e.g., by failing to open the public hearing within 30 days of the application date or failing to file the decision with the city or town clerk within 40 days of the hearing date. (See Chapter 4, Critical Timelines for additional guidance.) In addition, while there are matters the ZBA can regulate, others fall within the exclusive purview of the Subsidizing Agency. The differences can be confusing, especially since some items controlled by the Subsidizing Agency are also application requirements under the law. Furthermore, despite decisions of the HAC and the courts, and despite what the Chapter 40B regulations say, there is often pressure on ZBAs to reduce the number of units a developer can build based on a review of the developer’s preliminary pro forma. However, ZBAs need to understand that they can only require a developer to reduce the size of a proposed development in limited circumstances.
There are several sources of Chapter 40B training available to ZBAs. DHCD organizes a statewide Chapter 40B conference every year, usually in the fall. The conferences include “basic” training, legal updates, and special sessions on topics of interest, such as planning for affordable housing or working with peer review consultants. MHP provides Chapter 40B training for ZBAs that have received a comprehensive permit application, and on a regional basis for ZBAs regardless of whether they have an application before them. From time to time, the Citizen Planner Training Collaborative (CPTC) also provides Chapter 40B training at the annual CPTC conference in March, or in the fall if requested by the regional planning agencies. This Handbook can be used as a “stand-alone” resource or as a supplement to any of the trainings mentioned here. Sources of Training and Technical Assistance Massachusetts Housing Partnership Chapter 40B Technical Assistance Program Massachusetts Department of Housing and Community Development Annual Chapter 40B Conference Citizen Planner Training Collaborative Town Counsel or City Solicitor 9.