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Date: Calendar Year 1996
Location: Town of Billerica, Massachusetts

Annual Report of 1996

The Zoning Board of Appeal hereby submits its 1996 Annual Report to the town.

The Zoning Board of Appeal is a Quasi-Judicial Board, which operates under mandates of Massachusetts General Laws Annotated Chapter 40A and the Billerica Zoning By-laws.

The board consists of five members and two alternate members appointed by the Board of Selectmen. The members receive no financial compensation for their services to the board.

The board scheduled hearings on an average of twice a month in 1996 to handle the numerous petitions filed with the Town Clerk. Petitions heard by the board are open to the public, as established under Chapter 40A, 40B and 808 of Massachusetts General Laws.

To be granted a Variance, the petitioner must shown the board that owing to circumstances relating to the soil conditions, shape, or topography of such land or structures and especially affecting such land or structures, but not effecting generally the zoning district in which it is located, a literal enforcement of the provisions of the ordnance or by-law would involve a substantial hardship, financial or otherwise, to the petitioner or appellant. Also, the petitioner must show the board that by granting the petition, it would not be a substantial detriment to the public good and without nullifying or substantially derogating from the intent and purpose of such ordnance or Zoning By-law.

To be granted a Special Permit, the petitioner must show how the public convenience and welfare will be substantially served and how it will not impair the status of the neighborhood, that the permission requested will be in harmony with the general purposes and intent of the regulations in the Zoning By-laws. Under Chapter 40A, to grant a Variance or a Special Permit, the petitioner has to receive four affirmative votes from a five member board. Two negative votes will deny the petitioner a Variance or Special Permit for two years.

The Zoning Board of Appeal follows Chapter 40B of Massachusetts General Laws when conducting public hearings for Comprehensive Permits. Hearings must be scheduled within 30 days from the date the petition is filed with the Town Clerk. The board has 40 days after the termination of the hearing to render their decision. Approval for a Comprehensive Permit requires a majority votes of the Board.

The Board of Appeal conducted a total of 171 hearings in 1996. The board shall hold a hearing within 65 days and must vote to grant or deny a Variance request within 100 days from the date the request was filed at the Town Clerk's office. The board shall hold a hearing for a Special Permit within 65 days of filing the request and must vote to grant or deny within 90 days from the hearing. Failure of the board to vote on a Variance or Special Permit within the legal time frame results in an automatic granting of the petitioner's request.

Even though many of the cases are similar, each case is voted on its own individual merits. There are many issues to be considered before voting. Each decision is made in the best interest of the Town of Billerica and its residents.

The Board of Appeal would like to thank our clerk, Jane M. Nolan, for her continuous dedication and professionalism to the board and the general public. Also, appreciation is given to our Town Counsel, Town Clerk's office, Town Administrator's office, and other town departments for their cooperation and continued support during 1996.

Doris M. Pearson- Chairman


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