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How to file an appeal with the Zoning Board

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You can make an appeal if your project was denied because it didn’t meet the City or state building code. Here's how to file an appeal.


File your appeal

If you filed a long-form or short-form permit and your project was denied, you can make an appeal. You have to file your appeal within 45 days of getting your denial letter. The easiest way to file an appeal is to use our online portal:

Zoning Board online portal

If you don't want to use the online option, you need to file your appeal in person or have someone file an appeal for you at our offices:

Inspectional Services

1010 Massachusetts Ave, 5th Floor

Boston, MA 02118

Office hours: Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. - 4 p.m.


Pay the fee for your appeal

You have to pay your fee when you file your appeal with us. The fees are as follows:

  • Residential buildings with three units or less: $150 flat fee.
  • All other buildings, or residential buildings with more than three units: $150 for each City or state violation.

We take cash, a check or money order, or a credit or debit card from Mastercard or Visa.


Get ready for your public hearing

After we process your appeal, the Zoning Board will set up a hearing date. You can contact us weeks after you file to find out when your hearing is. Call us at 617-635-5300.

We publish the official hearing time and date at least 20 days ahead of time. We’ll mail you a notice and publish the date in the Boston Globe and the Boston Herald. We may also let other people and groups know about the event, including:

  • people who own properties next to yours
  • local officials and community groups, and
  • any other people that asked for a notification.

Is your appeal over a state building code violation? You can call 617-635-5300 and make an appointment with the plans examiner who will review your case. They’ll go over your plans to help you meet state building codes.


Go to your public hearing

After we send you an official notice with the date and time of your hearing, you or someone representing you needs to go to it. The Zoning Board holds hearings at Boston City Hall:

1 City Hall Square, Room 801

Boston, MA 02201

If you have supporting documents, make sure you bring them to the hearing. You have the right to hire a lawyer, architect, or any other professional to help your case.

About 15 days after your hearing, we send out a formal notice on the Zoning Board’s decision to you and everyone involved with your case.


Review plans with the redevelopment authority

After the Zoning Board makes a decision on your appeal, the Boston Redevelopment Authority may need to review your case. We’ll let you know if you need to contact them to set up a meeting. Call 617-722-4300 for help.

Once they review your plans, they’ll let us know what they think about your case. We use their input before we sign off on a final decision for your appeal.


Take any extra steps to finalize your appeal

The Zoning Board may ask you to meet some other conditions before you get final approval. For example, you might have to get additional engineer reports, more specific plans, or other documents.

For certain businesses like restaurants or parking lots you may also need to make changes to how you operate and get extra permits. Please keep in mind that we won't give you final approval until you meet all conditions.

Please note: If you don’t get all the documents you need on time to finalize your appeal, you may have to restart the process all over again.

If the Zoning Board denies your appeal

You need to wait one year before you can appeal again. You can only file sooner if you make major changes to your plans, or if you were dismissed without prejudice.


If you withdraw your appeal

You need to let us know in writing before we publish the date of your public hearing. You can’t withdraw an appeal once we send out notices. Remember, if you can’t make the hearing, you can send a representative.

If you decide you don’t want to continue with your appeal after we sent out the notice, you can request a “dismissal without prejudice.” This means you make an appeal again without having to wait a year. You have to make the request before the Zoning Board starts reviewing your case at the hearing.

Still have questions? Please call us at 617-635-5399.

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