The Planning Board consists of five elected officials who are elected for three year staggered terms. The Planning Board has several opportunities to attend educational sessions to improve our knowledge and skills. The Planning Board views its role as a shared community task and seeks participation from community members, including those new to our town.
The Planning Board is responsible for fulfilling state and local zoning requirements and for keeping the town's zoning regulations in line with current community plans such as Places of the Heart, Community Development Plan, Open Space and Recreation Plan. The Board has specific responsibilities as set forth in state law (M.G.L. C. 40A, 41, §81A-81J, & 81U) and local Bylaws and Regulations. Many of these responsibilities require adhering to a specific time schedule. The Board manages a budget and, when necessary to determine compliance with regulations, has the authority to hire professionals paid for by a special permit applicant.
The Board is currently working on the Conservation Development and Approval Not Required Bylaws to make it more desirable for developers to choose conservation rather than sprawl development. This is a direct response to plans developed by citizens that demonstrate an appreciation for, a desire to preserve open space and special resources, and a reflection of the ecological, forestry and agricultural opportunities in our community. The Board has also updated Subdivision Regulations to bring them more in line with these planning documents.
The Planning Board and the Zoning Board of Appeals hold hearings and make decisions on requests for special permits. There is a chart in the Zoning Bylaw that spells out which board handles which special permit. Generally the Zoning Board of Appeals handles residential special permits and the Planning Board all others. Planning Board members review development plans, guide the process of zoning amendments, and they plan. They follow state as well as the town's zoning regulations and bylaws. They are required to know and follow the state ethics and open meeting laws.