Municipal Boards

When one wants to remodel, build an addition or build new, it will require approvals (i.e. a building permit) from the local municipality, and sometimes county or regional review. The approval process includes submission of applications, fees, drawings and related documentation to explain the project to an agency within the municipality such as a building department. Generally, before the building departments actually reviews the application for code compliance, they will often obtain initial review by various boards that opine on many topics.  The boards usually meet at regular intervals and are open to the public. Typically the owner of the project is required to make a public notification about the meeting.

Below are a sampling of common boards and their duties:


Architectural Review Board

They review the appearance of the project, and relation of the appearance of the project to the neighborhood for context and appropriateness. Typical concerns would address material choices, window and roof design, and so forth.

Zoning Board of Appeals

This is an appellate court , since the applicant is “appealing” a zoning related decision that is preventing their ability to build.  Typical zoning regulations are restrictions that affect the size and “bulk” of the project, the location of the project on the site, the use of the site.

Planning Board

The most influential of the boards, since their purview affects macro-level concerns like traffic, environmental regulations such as wetland use, noise creation and the like.


Some advice:

From experience, I suggest to get as much information related to submission requirements and carefully package your submission while observing submission deadlines to avoid later disappointments. Make sure to make copies for your records. Understand before you have to submit or appear, if possible, the boards tendencies before going to the  towards certain issues so you can go in to the jungle with the right weapons and knowledge. Canvas your neighbors to see if you may have objections to your project before you are blind-sided by them in a public forum.

So what length of time should one expect at this time for these reviews and related approvals?

For most smaller projects : It generally takes between 1 and 2 months for your project to be reviewed and sent to one board for review and board approval. For projects needing variances add at least another month or two. From when those approvals are obtained, there is usually an additional month needed to obtain a building permit and allow construction to start.

For larger projects or  projects that are built in environmentally sensitive areas, or projects that may face neighbor opposition a period of 3-6 months is very common for obtaining necessary approvals.  Larger projects like subdivisions or office building often take between 6-18 months.

Give us a call to review your specific situation 914 674 2950!