Guidebook to Massachusetts Land Use 2021

Copyright ©2021 American Planning Association – Massachusetts Chapter, Inc. All rights reserved. This document may be reproduced for personal, non-commercial use only. May not be distributed without permission.

LAND USE & LEGAL DISCLAIMER – This Guidebook cannot possibly cover all land use situations that may arise and all questions to which local land use boards and officials may seek answers. This Guidebook provides legal information but not legal advice. Legal advice should be sought from, and provided by, the municipal attorney.

While every effort was made to assure that the information provided in this Guidebook is consistent with the constitution and laws of the Commonwealth, the purpose of the Guidebook is to provide some helpful – rather than all necessary – legal information that the reader must have in order to be reasonably well informed on the topics covered.

The Guidebook should equip the user to have a more focused and efficient discussion of land use matters with board members, planning staff, building commissioners, and the city solicitor or town counsel, among others. It is very much recommended that local officials seek the advice of their municipal council and planning staff whenever a question regarding the interpretation of land statutes or regulations arises.

GENERAL DISCLAIMER – The authors are solely responsible for the accuracy of the content of the material in the Guidebook. Any recommendations or opinions expressed, unless specifically attributed to another, are solely those of the authors. The information, statements, and other content of the Guidebook are not specifically ratified or endorsed by the APA-MA Chapter or its Board of Directors.

GUIDEBOOK ERRORS – Any errors discovered by the reader should be brought to the attention of the APA-MA Chapter. The nature of the error and the location where the error occurs should be stated. Contact information for the Chapter can be found on the Chapter’s website  or email us at