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Home > Board of Appeals

Board of Appeals


The Board of Appeals has authority pursuant to The Zoning Act (Chapter 40A of the Massachusetts General Laws) to grant variances from the Rockport Zoning Bylaw and special permits and special use permits under the Bylaw and to consider appeals from orders of the Building Inspector.

Decisions are reached by applying to the facts of each case the legal principles and standards set forth in the legislation involved, in most cases the Rockport Zoning Bylaw and The Zoning Act. In interpreting the pertinent statutes and bylaws, the Board follows its own prior decisions as well as relevant court precedent.

The Board of Appeals normally holds public hearings on the last Tuesday of each month and public meetings after those hearings; other public hearings and/or public meetings are held when required to handle pending business. Five members of the Board sit on each case, and to grant relief requires the concurring votes of four members. An associate member takes the place of any regular member who is unable to act due to absence, conflict of interest, or any other reason.

Zoning Administrator

In certain kinds of cases, the applicant may elect to seek relief from a Zoning Administrator instead of from the Board. A Zoning Administrator has authority (a) to grant a special permit for enlargement, change or alteration of any existing building, (b) to grant a special permit for an accessory dwelling, (c) to grant a special permit for conversion of any existing building into a two-family dwelling or an apartment house, (d) to grant a special permit for reduced accessory building setbacks, (e) to grant a variance of dimensional requirements to ratify an existing structure, or (f) to grant a variance of frontage requirements in case of an existing lot that abuts a way or street but cannot use its apparent frontage for access.

Hearings before a Zoning Administrator may be scheduled with greater flexibility as to date and time, although public notice and advertising are required, and a Zoning Administrator's decision will normally be quicker. Any person aggrieved by the decision of a Zoning Administrator may appeal to the Board of Appeals.