You can’t build there. A look at zoning laws in Massachusetts

Whether you’re a business owner or an individual simply looking to build your first home, there is something that you probably both have in common. At some point, you have probably both said, “This looks like a great place to build a property!” As you will soon find out though, thinking this and acting on it are two completely different things.

This is due in part to zoning laws. Though you may be unfamiliar with the term, you have probably noticed it in your day to day life. Zoning is a land-use regulation that towns and cities use to dictate where commercial, industrial and residential districts will go. This is why you typically don’t see industrial plants in the middle of residential neighborhoods and vice versa.

But as anyone who has read any statutes here in Massachusetts knows, zoning laws are incredibly complex. This is why the city of Worcester has its own Division of Building and Zoning, which is responsible for enforcing construction codes as well as supporting development within the community.

It’s worth pointing out at this time though that zoning laws don’t simply dictate where a certain type of property can go, these laws can also dictate what certain land can be used for as well. Zoning laws may also include ordinances, which restrict land use, especially in instances where use of the land might harm the environment or the health of community members.

Although our state does offer resources that provide information on zoning laws within Massachusetts, it’s important to know that zoning laws may be tailored to each city or town, meaning what applies in one city, may not be the case in a neighboring town.

It’s because of this that anyone planning on building in Worcester or any town in Massachusetts should talk to their local zoning department ahead of time. But if your decision to build has already resulted in a dispute, you should know that you do have the right to obtain a lawyer for help.