What is the difference between the Planning Board and the Zoning Board of Appeals?

The Planning Board and Zoning Board of Appeals both serve different functions in Brookline. The Planning Board is a 7 member board that consists of design professionals.  The Planning Board reviews and offers recommendations to the ZBA on all zoning cases.  It also guides the physical growth and development of the Town through the adoption and implementation of a master plan, consideration of zoning bylaw amendments, and evaluation and recommendation on land use changes, development projects and the siting of wireless telecommunication facilities on private property.  The Planning Board also conducts design review for signage and building facades, and appoints Design Advisory Teams to review Major Impact Projects. 

The Board of Appeals is the Town’s permit granting authority that is responsible for reviewing and approving applications for relief by special permit and by variance from the requirements of the Zoning By-Law, in accordance with the “Massachusetts Zoning Act” - Massachusetts General Laws, Chapter 40A. 3 board members sit for each hearing and a unanimous vote is required for zoning relief to be granted. The ZBA also hears administrative appeals of Building Commissioner decisions or of ZBA decisions. 

Show All Answers

1. What is zoning and why does my project require zoning relief?
2. What is a pre-existing non-conforming use?
3. What is an “as-of-right” project?
4. Why do I need zoning relief if my structure is non-conforming?
5. What are special permits and variances and what is the process?
6. What is the difference between the Planning Board and the Zoning Board of Appeals?
7. How long does a special permit or variance process take?
8. How can I find out what zoning district my home or property is located in?
9. What is Floor Area Ratio (FAR) and how do I calculate it?
10. Do my plans need to be drawn by a registered architect?
11. Do I need an attorney to file an application with a Board or Commission?
12. I would like to put a shed/detached garage/AC condenser/generator on my property. Is this allowed?
13. I would like to add an in-law suite or accessory apartment to my home. Can I do this?
14. What are the regulations pertaining to signage for my business?
15. My neighbor is proposing a project that I am concerned about. What can I do?
16. How do I learn about Major Impact projects and Design Advisory Teams?
17. What is a 40B project?
18. Where can I review past meeting minutes?
19. Where can I read zoning decisions on recent zoning cases?
20. The ZBA voted to approve my application. Now what?
21. There is construction taking place near me that is disruptive/causing a nuisance/does not seem to be following the plans/does not seem to have a work permit/etc. What can I do?
22. Can I subdivide my lot? What is an ANR plan?
23. How can I propose a zoning amendment?
24. How do I learn about Town Meeting zoning amendments?