Building reviews all construction to ensure that structures are built properly (i.e. “to Code”) and can be occupied safely for their intended purpose. A building permit must be obtained before beginning construction, alteration or repairs, other than ordinary repairs. Work requiring permits includes decks, window replacements, installation of a wood or pellet stove, and installation of a pre-fabricated shed on your property. In addition, even if no work is being done, in some cases a change of use to a piece of property (for example, a warehouse to a dance studio) requires a building permit because of different requirements for the new use.
Planning and Zoning regulates the activities allowed on your property and where the structures that contain these uses can be located. Construction, reconstruction, extension, enlargement, moving, or altering any building or another structure and prior to the use or occupancy of any land, building, or other structure requires a zoning permit. In addition, a change of use of a property (e.g., retail to restaurant or residential to commercial) must go through the planning and zoning approval process. In most cases (except with very simple projects that do not affect the outside of a structure in any way), planning and zoning approval is required before a building permit can be applied for. Many of these approvals can be obtained over the counter during permitting hours.
The Inland Wetland Agency regulates activities proposed in an inland wetland or watercourse and within 100’ (or an upland review area) of wetlands or watercourses. Any work done in that area will require Inland Wetlands review. In addition, the Inland Wetland Agency regulates any activities proposed involving the storage, removal, or deposition of material, any obstruction, construction, alteration or pollution of a wetland or watercourse, any earth moving, filling, construction, clear-cutting of trees, and discharging of waters. Our Wetlands office can help you identify whether their approval will be required for a project, and assist in the process.