The Town Zoning Ordinance regulates the use of land, buildings, and structures in Weymouth. It also governs the issuance of special permits, variances, and code-enforcement appeals.

What is Zoning?

Zoning is a planning tool used to regulate the built environment. It does so by dividing the land area of a community into different sections, i.e., zoning districts, and permitting particular "uses” (residential, commercial, industrial, etc.) within those districts.

In Massachusetts, all zoning is local, and each municipality is responsible for adopting its own ordinance or bylaw.

Through zoning, communities have the opportunity to shape the layout of their jurisdictions, promote specific types of development, and protect the character of local neighborhoods.

Zoning Terminology

The following terms are used in the development and monitoring of zoning in Massachusetts. Find additional zoning terminology here.

Board of Zoning Appeals (BZA)

The Board of Zoning Appeals has the power to hear and decide zoning cases related to the following: (1) applications for special permits, (2) petitions for variances, (3) appeals from zoning-enforcement decisions, and (4) applications under the Massachusetts Comprehensive Permit Law, also known as Chapter 40B.

Overlay District

An overlay district is a district that is superimposed over one or more existing zoning districts. The overlay provides opportunities for other uses in addition to those otherwise allowed in the underlying district.

Special Permit

A special permit is an allowable use of land that requires special permission prior to implementation. Applications for special permits are heard and decided by the BZA in the form of a public hearing. Chapter 40A of the Massachusetts General Laws defines many uses that cities and towns can regulate through the use of special permits. Special permits may impose conditions, safeguards, and limitations on time or use.

Site Plan Review

Site plan review describes a formal, coordinate review of a proposed development project that is typically triggered by certain types of uses or certain scales of uses. Site plan review is meant to establish design standards for a development, not the use of a site. In the Town of Weymouth, the process of site plan review is administered by the Director of Planning and Community Development or his/her nominee. 


A variance is an approved deviation or exception from the terms of the Town Zoning Ordinance based on demonstrative circumstances of hardship. Petitions for variances are heard and decided by the BZA in the form of a public hearing. The requirements for granting a variance are detailed in Chapter 40A of the Massachusetts General Laws.

Zoning Amendment

A zoning amendment is a change to the Town Zoning Ordnance. The legal requirements for amending a zoning ordinance are detailed in Chapter 40A of the Massachusetts General Laws. Find a description of the process here.

Zoning Enforcement Officer

The Zoning Enforcement Officer is charged with the enforcement and interpretation of the Town Zoning Ordinance. This designation is assigned to the Town’s Certified Building Officer or Inspector of Buildings.

Related Documents/Links