Zoning and Land Use Laws

Did you know that zoning and land use laws are made up of regulations and policies to protect community resources while guiding new development? Zoning and land use laws are enacted as a device of land planning that regulates nearly all new construction, most alterations, commercial occupancy changes, property line changes and most site development activity including some tree cutting and landscaping. The word is derived from the practice of designating permitted uses of land based on mapped zones which separate one use of land from another. Zoning may be use-based to dictate activities that can be conducted on the land or it may be dimensional-based to regulate building height, lot coverage, or a combination thereof.

These regulations are often difficult and cumbersome to navigate and are enforced by various federal, state and local laws and by-laws. Before beginning a project, it is necessary to become familiar with the regulations and policies that need to be adhered to in your jurisdiction. The web has a collection of searchable databases containing information on the zoning codes, subdivision requirements, and environmental regulations. Interested parties can search the database by regulation or locality and can download information in a variety of formats. A word of caution, however, is to contact your local jurisdiction make sure you are relying on the latest information.  The staff at ProTerra would welcome the opportunity to sit down with you to perform an assessment of your property to help determine its highest and best use. Pay subscriptions to some of the website may apply.


Massachusetts Housing Regulations Database

Massachusetts City & Town Websites by MIT

MACC Database of Wetlands Bylaws, Regulations, & Policies