The Town of Hawley has both general and zoning by-laws. To understand the role of the Zoning Board of Appeals, it is necessary to understand the purpose of the Zoning By-Laws.
Hawley has a set of regulations and there may be legitimate cases where residents should be allowed a certain exception. It is up to the Zoning Board of Appeals to make these determinations. There are also a number of other instances where the Board has jurisdiction or is the first line of appeal.
An example might be a resident’s right to appeal a decision rendered by the Building Commissioner where they are impacted in some way, either directly or indirectly. Perhaps the Building Commissioner has granted a Building Permit to your next door neighbor and you feel that there are reasons why such a permit should not have been issued. Perhaps there are some mitigating circumstances involving topography or soil conditions that you fear may have an impact on your property. Under the law, you are entitled to appeal the issuance of that permit, and your appeal will be heard by the Zoning Board of Appeals.
The Zoning Board of Appeals is not an enforcement agency. While residents may appeal an enforcement order given by the Building Commissioner, the Building Commissioner is charged with enforcement of the Zoning By-Laws. The Board may call for specific conditions in a decision, but it is up to the Building Commissioner to respond to any reports of violations or incidents where it is alleged that such specific conditions are not being followed.
The Board is made up of three members. Members serve 3-year terms. The Board elects a Chairperson.
Chapter 40A of the General Laws of the Commonwealth requires that once an application has been completed, that a public hearing be scheduled within 65 calendar days. Meetings are scheduled to hear as many as five petitions, and all must be heard within the 65 day time frame. Thus, meetings are scheduled on an “as-required” basis. All hearings (meetings) are open to the public and anyone can attend.
The Town By-Laws (General + Zoning) are available for viewing HERE.