How do I get notified of projects in my neighborhood?
There are a couple of ways to get notification. First, if you are within 300 ft of the parcel you will be notified by mail if it is required under the law. Another way is to subscribe to the notifications from the Planning and Zoning Boards. All agendas and Public Hearing notices will trigger a notification. There also are two websites you can check to see the projects. The coUrbanize website has the larger projects, while the smaller projects will be on the Town's Projects webpage.
Why wasn't I notified of a project in my neighborhood?
Its quite possible that they were not required to notify you. Commonwealth law (M.G.L. Ch. 40A) states what kinds of applications require abutter notification and what does not. For example, Public Hearings require notifications, while Public Meetings do not. In addition, notifications are only required to abutters and abutters of abutters (i.e. one or two parcels away) within 300' of the property. Please note that does not include renters, only the owner of record of the property.
How do I comment on a project?
There are two ways to comment on a project. First is at the public meeting of the Board, Planning or Zoning. All meetings are open to the public and the public is welcome to weigh in with questions, concerns, and/or support (With a few procedural exceptions, for example, if a Public Hearing has been closed no more testimony can be taken.). The second way is to send a letter to the Board, either by mail or electronically. While all comments are forwarded to the Boards, we do ask that you send in comments a couple of days in advance of the meetings. Otherwise, the Boards may not be able to give the comment its proper consideration.
Can I get an overview of this approval process?
Of course. Just click here: Meeting/Hearing Process
Where is my property line?
If you do not have a plot plan, there are a couple of options. First, we may have a plot plan on file in the office. The second option is to hire a surveyor. While expensive, a surveyor will find your property markers (showing you where they are as well) and tell you exactly where your property boundaries are. There is a chance your neighbor may know where the property line is as well.
Where do I find a plot plan?
The bank should have supplied you with one when you bought your property, but they do not always do. There may be a plot plan on file in the Planning Department, but we can't guarantee that we will have one.
What's going on at my neighbor's house? Can they do that?
First, we suggest asking them. You would be amazed at what a quick chat can accomplish. Otherwise, you can contact the Planning Department. We can tell you the basics, such as they are building a deck, or an addition, for example. Even some larger projects don't require public notice. We can also check that they are doing what they said they were going to do if you think something is amiss.
I have a project in mind. Where do I start?
There are several different places to start depending on the complexity of the project. For simple projects, like a Special Permit for an in-law apartment, you may be able to fill out the application yourself. For larger projects you may want to hire an expert, either an engineer or a lawyer. Every project is different, so we strongly recommend talking to us as a starting point. We will be happy to guide you.
The Town must follow both local and commonwealth laws, Chapter 282 of the Ashland Bylaws is the Zoning for example, and Massachusetts law is M.G.L. 40A. This gives a set of rules that all projects must follow, including time frames and notification requirements. In general, M.G.L. 40A states what we must do, while the town bylaws state how we do what we do.
How do I find out what zone a property is in?
On the left you will find Zoning. Hover over that, then click on Zoning Lookup.