What are special permits and variances?

Both are types of zoning relief.  A Special Permit is required where the proposed use or development is identified by the Zoning By-Law as requiring one.  Special permits will be outlined in the tables and text of the By-Law as available for certain uses or certain dimensional exceptions if the ZBA finds that the applicant meets specific criteria. 

A variance is required if the proposed use or development is prohibited by the By-Law. The applicant must prove that there is uniqueness to their lot whereby a literal interpretation of the By-Law would cause a hardship warranting an exception from the Zoning By-Law.  The application process for variances and special permits is the same.  An application is located here.

Show All Answers

1. What is zoning?
2. What is zoning and why does my project require zoning relief?
3. What is a pre-existing non-conforming use?
4. What is an “as-of-right” project?
5. Why do I need zoning relief if my structure is non-conforming?
6. What are special permits and variances?
7. What is the zoning process in Brookline?
8. What is the difference between the Planning Board and the Zoning Board of Appeals?
9. How can I find out what zoning district my property is located in?
10. What is Floor Area Ratio (FAR) and how do I calculate it?
11. My neighbor is proposing a project that I am concerned about. What can I do?
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. Do I need an attorney to file an application with a Board or Commission?
15. The ZBA voted to approve my application. Now what?
16. How long does the zoning process take?
17. Do my plans need to be drawn by a registered architect?
18. What are the regulations pertaining to signage for my business?
19. Where can I read zoning decisions on recent zoning cases?
20. How can I propose a zoning amendment?
21. What is a 40B project?
22. Can I subdivide my lot? What is an ANR plan?
23. How do I learn about Major Impact projects and Design Advisory Teams?
24. How do I learn about Town Meeting zoning amendments?
25. Learn about Brookline’s Climate Action/Sustainability initiatives?
26. Where can I review past meeting minutes?
27. 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?