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Chapter 40B Handbook for Zoning Boards of Appeal part 2

G.L. c. 40B, §§ 20-23 – known as Chapter 40B or the Comprehensive Permit Law – is a state law that was enacted in 1969 to facilitate construction of low- or moderate-income housing. It establishes a consolidated local review and approval process (known as a “comprehensive permit”) that empowers the zoning board of appeals (ZBA) in each city and town to hold hearings and make binding decisions that encompass all local ordinances or bylaws and regulations. In certain circumstances, the ZBA’s comprehensive permit decision may be appealed to the Massachusetts Housing Appeals Committee (HAC), which has the power to affirm, modify, or overturn local decisions. Comprehensive permit applications are subject to unique rules and are typically far more complex than any other matters that come before a ZBA. This handbook is a resource for ZBA members, other local officials, and any other interested people who want to understand the comprehensive permit process and achieve the best possible results when new affordable housing is proposed in their community. Additional information can be found in the Chapter 40B Regulations (760 CMR 56.00 et seq.) and the Guidelines for G.L. c.40B Comprehensive Permit Projects and the Subsidized Housing Inventory published by the Massachusetts Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD) (“Chapter 40B Guidelines”), both of which can be found online at http://www.mass.gov/hed/. Why this Handbook? In 2005, the Massachusetts Housing Partnership (MHP) released a similar publication entitled, “Local 40B Review and Decision Guidelines.” Co-authored by MHP Executive Director Clark Ziegler and Attorney Edith M. Netter, with input from an advisory panel, the guidelines made recommendations for managing the comprehensive permit process and provided technical assistance for reviewing a developer’s pro forma, a financial analysis of project development costs, anticipated revenues, and the developer’s net financial return.