The Guidebook to Massachusetts Land Use – 2021 Disclaimer


The Guidebook to Massachusetts Land Use – 2021 Disclaimer

Copyright © 2021 by The American Planning Association – Massachusetts Chapter
All rights reserved, including the right of reproduction in whole or in part in any form. 

General Disclaimer – The authors[1] are responsible for the accuracy of the content of the material in the Guidebook. The information, statements, and other content of the Guidebook are not specifically ratified or endorsed by the American Planning Association-Massachusetts Chapter.

Land Use & Legal Disclaimer – This Guidebook cannot possibly cover all land use situations that may arise and all questions for which local land use boards and officials may seek answers. This Guidebook does not provide 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 commentary meant to assist the reader 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 attorney and planning staff whenever a question regarding the interpretation of land statutes or regulations arises.

A Word of Caution – The Guidebook was finalized during a period when a variety of changes were being made to many state laws and regulations. These include the adoption of Chapter 358 of the Acts of 2020 (“The Housing Choice” bill). The Guidebook was updated to reflect those changes but as of time of publication, there were continuing advisories coming from the State on interpretation of the changes.

There were also various “emergency” orders of the Governor related to the COVID-19 situation, many of which were associated with land use statutes of the Commonwealth. Some of the emergency orders were temporary and several resulted in more permanent changes to the statutes. In certain cases, adjustments of legal timelines and deadlines were made, as well as changes to requirements of the open meeting and public records laws. The text of this Guidebook underwent final review early in this emergency period and thus does not reflect the final outcomes of the emergency orders.

For these reasons it is all the more important that the reader consult with their municipal attorney when in doubt about the currency of Guidebook text related to the changes noted above.

Guidebook Errors – Readers are encouraged to contact the Chapter about any errors identified or corrections suggested that they may propose. The nature of the error and the location in the Guidebook where the error occurs should be stated.

APA-MA Chapter Contact Information – Contact information for the Chapter can be found on the Chapter’s website. or email

[1] The word “author” is to be understood as Bob Mitchell and Bob Ritchie with respect to Guidebook content submitted to APA-MA by them in August 2021, but not subsequent substantive changes in the Guidebook text authored by others.

Please click on the acknowledgement link below, which will bring you to a page where you enter your APA ID# to access the Guidebook. Thank you!