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Amendment to the State Subdivision Control Law and the State Zoning Act Allows Consolidation of Planning Board Hearings for Developments Requiring Both Subdivision Approval and a Special Permit

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| Legal Advisory

A recent amendment to the state’s Subdivision Control Law and Zoning Act may help to streamline the permitting process for developers seeking to obtain subdivision approval for projects that also require a special permit. Approved on August 4, 2008 and effective November 3, 2008, Chapter 239 of the Acts of 2008 amends the Subdivision Control Law to provide for a consolidated hearing for the definitive subdivision plan and special permit by the planning board when the planning board is also the special permit granting authority. The Act also amends the Subdivision Control Law and Section 11 of the Zoning Act to allow for publication of a single advertisement giving notice of the consolidated hearing. While the decision to hold a consolidated hearing is at the discretion of the planning board, the amendment provides the opportunity for less duplication and more efficient proceedings.

This change may provide a more cost effective and streamlined hearing process for projects that require both subdivision approval and a special permit. Previously, developers who needed both approvals incurred the time and expense of separate hearings before the planning board. This change may also have implications for those wishing to challenge a subdivision approval or a special permit. While persons seeking to challenge any such approvals will still have opportunity to do so under the Zoning Act and the Subdivision Control Law, a consolidated hearing may provide a better forum for addressing their concerns in a more coordinated fashion, thus possibly avoiding challenges to a proposed project or, at a minimum, resulting in one appeal rather than two separate appeals.

This advisory was prepared by Robert A. Fishman, chair of Nutter’s Land Use Practice Group. For further information, please contact Bob or your Nutter attorney at 617-439-2000.

This update is for information purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice on any specific facts or circumstances. Under the rules of the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts, this material may be considered as advertising.

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