The Zoning Board of Appeals (ZBA) is comprised of five regular members and three associate members, all appointed by the Selectmen. The ZBA also employs a Secretary to record minutes and attend to various administrative duties. The ZBA has four responsibilities:
1) To hear and consider appeals to decisions made by the Building Commissioner, who also acts as the Zoning Enforcement Officer. Petitioners can appeal denial of a building permit and can appeal zoning enforcement action or inaction.
2) To hear and consider requests for Special Permits. A Special Permit is required when a property owner wants to build in a manner that does not conform to the Bylaws and/or on a lot that does not conform to the Bylaws. The scope, breadth, and limits of Special Permits are clearly defined in the Lakeville Bylaws. When denial of a Building Permit has been overturned by the ZBA, a Special Permit is almost always required before the Building Commissioner can issue a Building Permit.
3) To hear and consider requests for Variances. A Variance is needed when a property owner wants to build on a lot that, due to hardships imposed by shape or topography, requires an approach that does not conform to the Bylaws.
4) To hear and consider requests for Comprehensive Permits for Chapter 40B affordable housing developments.
A hearing before the ZBA may be scheduled by completing the petition application form, available from the Town Clerk. Applicants must pay two fees: One fee is for the required newspaper advertisements; the other fee is paid to the Town of Lakeville to cover administrative costs. The fee schedule is available from the Town Clerk.
Petitioners who are appealing denial of a Building Permit are advised that they also must request a Special Permit or Variance for the construction, activity, or expansion that is otherwise non-conforming and that triggered the denial in the first place.
Petitioners are strongly advised to complete all forms, submit all plans (engineered plans preferred and often required), and gain approval from other boards and committees before paying the ZBA application fees. The ZBA has the right to deny petitions that are incomplete, insufficient, or lack critical components, thus costing the petitioner more for a second application and taking more time.
The important message is: Do your homework first.