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Can my property be used for a [two-family dwelling/business/church/parking lot/other] ?
How can I find out the zoning of my property?
Use of privately-owned land in the City is regulated by the City zoning ordinance and applicable provisions of the state zoning law, Massachusetts General Laws, Chapter 40A. To know how your property can be legally used, you must know the zoning of the property.
How can I tell if my property is exempt from the current zoning ordinance, a.k.a., grandfathered in?
To find out the zoning of a particular parcel, you must know the address of the property and check three sources: the City zoning map; records on file for the property in the Planning office; and records on file for the property in the Building Department.
The City zoning map shows the zoning district of a property. The zoning map is part of the City zoning ordinance. The zoning ordinance describes how property in each district may be used, including for what purpose, the required dimensional controls of any building or structure, i.e., minimum size of lot, maximum height, maximum footprint of the building, setbacks (distance) from lot lines, and the parking requirements, i.e., number and size of space, driveways, loading, screening, landscaping, snow storage.
Use of a particular property may also be controlled by the terms and conditions of a valid special permit or variance that has been granted in the past. The files at the Planning office should contain any records of any special permits or variances granted for the property. The files of the Building Department should contain records of any building and occupancy permits for the property, and also any special permit or variances.
Can I change the zoning of my property?
A property is exempt or “grandfathered in” from the City’s current zoning ordinance and may be considered “preexisting nonconforming” if it meets certain specific requirements of state and local law. Generally speaking, the laws provide exemptions for a building, structure or property or use and occupancy of a property that was legally in existence prior to the date the zoning ordinance ordainment process began
What are the dimensional controls [i.e., minimum lot size, height, yard setbacks, open space] and parking requirements [i.e., number of spaces, loading, screening] required for a particular use [two-family/church/medical office/manufacturing business]?
The zoning district of a property may be changed through the amendment process. The process is lengthy (approximate maximum six months) and involves petition to the City Council, public hearing by the Planning Board and City Council Ordinance Committee, and an affirmative vote to ordain by at least eight members of the eleven-member City Council. Rezoning stand-alone individual parcels of property may be considered if to match zoning of contiguous parcels or to meet stated planning objectives. Generally speaking, a property owner may change the use of the property only to a use allowed in the district where the property is located. Per City zoning ordinance and state statute, there may exceptions to this rule in the case of a preexisting nonconforming property.
When does the Planning Board meet?
The dimensional controls are found in Section 400 of the City zoning ordinance. The parking requirements are found in Section 500 of the City zoning ordinance.
Where do I file an application for a special permit?
The Planning Board meets monthly on the second Wednesday of the month at 7 pm in the Herbert L. Jackson Council Chamber, 3rd Floor, City Hall.
What do I need to file an application for a special permit?
All applications for special permits are filed with the Buildng Inspector in the Department of Inspectional Services.
How long does it take to obtain a special permit?
Submission requirements for special permit applications are described in the Submission Checklist and typically include a site plan and floor plans. Depending on the type of proposal, a traffic impact study, geotechnical information or flood plain elevations may also be required. Contact the Board of Appeal for information on filing requirements for a variance, and the Building Department for the filing requirements for building and occupancy permits.
Where can I obtain a copy of the City’s zoning ordinance?
The entire process can take around 4 months and this time-frame is determined by state statute. Individual steps and their respective time-frames: From the date of filing complete application (including all plans and the fee) with the Building Inspector, the Building Inspector has 30 days to process the application and send your application to the Planning Board. After the application is first processed by the Assessor’s Office (where the certified abutter’s list is prepared) and Treasurer’s Office (where the fee is paid), the City Clerk posts the application and from that date, the Planning Board has 65 days to hold a public hearing. Notice of hearing must be published no later than two weeks prior to the date of the hearing, once each for two successive weeks in a newspaper of general local circulation. The Board’s decision must be posted with the City Clerk and abutters notified within 14 days of the close of the hearing. Any appeal of the decision must be filed within 20 days. Provided there is no appeal, the decision must be recorded at the Registry of Deeds and presented to the Building Inspector before a building or occupancy permit can be issued.
Is the zoning map on-line?
The zoning ordinance can be viewed on-line at the City’s website. A copy of the zoning ordinance may be purchased in the Planning office.
Can I subdivide my property?
A copy of the current zoning map is on the City's web site. From the Home page go to "Government" then "Laws and Ordinances" then to "Zoning Map".
How do I know where my property lines are?
Subdivision of property is subject to state and local subdivision control laws and requires the approval of the Planning Board. Generally speaking, land may be subdivided provided it has the minimum required frontage (continuous and contiguous length along the street line of a public way, a private way approved and endorsed by the Planning Board and constructed, or a private way certified by the City Clerk and Planning & Engineering Department as used and maintained as a public way).
How can I obtain a copy of a plan of my property?
The deed to the property provides a legal description of the boundaries of your property. A registered surveyor, engineer or other licensed professional can prepare a plan showing the exact boundaries and location of existing structures. A professionally-prepared plan is required for mortgages, deeds, fences, building and other permits. The professional preparing the plan can also physically mark (“stake out”) the lot lines of the property.
Is my property in the flood plain?
You may obtain a copy of a City Assessor’s Map showing the approximate boundaries of your property, for a nominal fee in the Planning office. These maps should be used for reference only and may not be accurate. These maps should not be relied on for placement of fences and do not meet submission requirements for any structures that require a permit.
Can I put a driveway on my property?
The flood plain is shown on maps produced by the Federal Emergency Management Association (FEMA). These maps are available for public viewing in the Planning office and also on-line at www.MSC.FEMA.gov. Any disputes regarding the information depicted on these maps must be directed to FEMA.
Can I put a fence on my property?
Yes, provided you comply with the provisions of the zoning ordinance that require no more than 50% of the front yard may be paved (or seek and obtain a variance of this requirement) and have the approval of the Department of Public Works (DPW) for any curb-cut on the street.
Where can I find U.S. Census data for Malden?
Fences on private property are not regulated by the City. To make sure you are installing the fence on your property, it is recommended (and may be required by the installer) that you obtain a professionally-prepared plan depicting the exact boundaries of the lot.
Where can I find out if a building permit has been issued for a particular property or activity?
The most recent data available is from the federal census done in 2000 and is available on-line at the U.S. Census Bureau, through the American Factfinder program at www.factfinder.census.gov.
Where do I report a nuisance property or illegal use of a property [i.e., illegal apartment, rooming house, unauthorized business]?
Contact the Building Inspector and/or Inspectional Services Department at (781) 397-7030.
You may make a report (verbal or written, anonymous or not) of any nuisance conditions or suspected illegal use of a property to the Mayor’s Housing Task Force. The Task Force is charged with investigating and resolving illegal property use and nuisance properties and includes the Building Inspector and representatives of the Board of Health/Department of Public Health, Fire and Police Departments. Contact the Task Force by calling the Inspectional Services Department at (781) 397-7030, the Malden Redevelopment Authority at (781) 397-7354 or the Mayor's Office at (781) 397-7000.