A: It is important for the building owner to appear at the hearing as well as the architect if there is one. If the architect has the authority to act on behalf of the owner, the owner need not be present. The architect should bring a letter from the owner indicating that he or she has the authority to act on the owner's behalf. In addition to the owner and architect, anyone directly affected by this variance should attend the hearing. If the hearing is on a complaint filed with our office, the complainant should attend the hearing, or send someone to represent him or her. If it is not possible to attend the hearing, it is strongly recommended that the complainant send a letter to the Board indicating his/her position. The Board does provide accommodations to persons with disabilities to participate in the hearing via conference calling.
Q: Do I need legal counsel at the hearing?
A: No. 90% of the Board's hearings are conducted without parties being represented by legal counsel. However, if you wish to be represented by legal counsel, you may do so.
Q: What information is most necessary for the Board to have?
A: The estimated cost of construction for the project, and a written estimate of what it would cost to comply with the Board's regulations. You should also be prepared to show plans indicating possible alternative solutions. Your alternative solutions should demonstrate how compliance could be achieved, and what costs each alternative might entail.
Q: What materials should be brought to the hearing and how should I present the materials?
A: You may contact the Department for more information on how to prepare for the hearing, but generally the materials will mirror those mentioned in Q18 above. If you will be presenting visual materials, they should be readable from at least ten (10) feet away. It is helpful to mount drawings and photographs on presentation boards. It is also extremely important that plans are very clear for presentation. Color coding plans (i.e., showing accessible areas in one color and inaccessible areas in another color) helps. In addition, please provide the Board with 8 1/2" x 11" sheets of the presentation. If plans are to be provided to the individual Board members, the plans shall be in a format no larger than 11x17. When possible, the materials should also be submitted into our office in an electronic format, preferably on a compact disc.
Q: When will I find out the decision on the hearing?
A: If all material is presented, the Board may make a decision at the end of the hearing. It is possible that the Board will take the case under advisement and make a decision later in the day or at its next meeting. It usually takes about four weeks to receive the written decision.
Q: Is there an appeal process if I am aggrieved by the Board's decision?
A: Yes, however, the appeal process is through the Superior Court. An appeal must be filed in Superior Court within 30 days of receipt of the decision. The Board may reopen the hearing, but only if you have new information or new evidence which was not reasonably available to you at the time of the hearing. (See 521 CMR Section 4.4).
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