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CPTC Webinar Series 2022

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The CPTC 2022 Webinar Series is a series of online workshops held throughout the year. Our final workshop series of the year is the Fall Workshops. The Fall Workshops focus on core topics in Massachusetts municipal planning.


CPTC Fall Workshop Series of webinars runs through early January 2023. Pre-registration is required. Registration closes 48 hours before the workshop begins.


11. Fair Housing

Fair housing laws regulate the development, leasing, buying and selling of real estate, as well as state and municipal housing programs, and aspects of municipal land use. This module will describe how land use regulations have been (and continue to be) used to exclude groups from specific neighborhoods and properties, and provide a detailed overview of federal and state laws intended to prevent discrimination and promote equity in housing. A special focus will be on the role of the municipality in enforcing a commitment to fair housing, and the potential consequences of not doing so.

  • Presenter: Jenny Raitt, Executive Director, Northern Middlesex Council of Governments
  • Moderator: Katy Lacy, Mass Housing Partnership, CPTC Board member

5. Special Permits & Variances

Participants will learn about the difference between special permits and variances; the issues and criteria for decision-making; and procedural requirements. Additionally, the course will discuss who has the authority to issue special permits and variances and how judicial decisions guide the way we work with them.

  • Presenter: Pam Brown, FAICP, Brown & Brown, LLC
  • Host: Merrimack Valley Planning Commission

6. Site Plan Review

The Zoning Act does not contain any provisions for the review of site plans, however the process can be a very effective tool for a board to review the details, aesthetics and impacts of a potential project.  This course explains the legal issues when using site plan review; the difference between site plan approval and special permits; the review process; the types of conditions a board may impose; the reasons for disapproval; the appeal process and the types of information a municipality can require to be shown on a site plan. Additional material will be presented on how to incorporate site plan review into your zoning bylaw or ordinance.

  • Presenter: Judi Barrett, Barrett Planning Group
  • Host: Northern Middlesex Council of Governments

7. Introduction to Subdivision Control & ANR

This session addresses the purposes of the Subdivision Control Law and the Planning Board’s authority under the Act. It also covers important procedural requirements and board responsibilities when reviewing subdivision and ANR plans; adoption of subdivision regulations; review of ANR plans; access issues; preliminary and definitive plans; Planning Board waivers; modifying, amending and rescinding plans; enforcement; vested rights and zoning freezes.  

  • Presenter: Jonathan Silverstein of Blatman, Bobrowski, Haverty & Silverstein, LLC
  • Host: Southeastern Regional Planning & Economic Development District

8. Vested Rights and Nonconforming Structures & Uses

The course will cover the issue of vested rights under zoning and subdivision law, why they exist, and how they affect the work of the Zoning Boards of Appeals and Planning Boards. Participants will learn what the Zoning Act says about vested rights and the way it occurs. This session will answer the question regarding whether nonconforming structures and uses can change and if so, how much. Finally, the course will address how judicial decisions shape the way provisions of the Zoning Act are interpreted today.

  • Presenter: Barbara Saint Andre, Town of Medway
  • Host: Cape Cod Commission

9. Roles & Responsibilities of Planning Boards and ZBAs

Join us for this webinar if you are a new Board member or building inspector. This program will launch you into your role as a local official, introduce you to the functions of the two boards and the main tools of planning and zoning. This session will also include an introductory discussion of the Open Meeting, Public Records, and the Conflict of Interest Laws. 

  • Presenter: Brian Currie, AICP
  • Host: Franklin Regional Council of Governments

10. Zoning with Overlay Districts

Overlay zoning is a popular and useful tool allowing municipalities to implement land use policies and strategies with greater flexibility than traditional zoning, without the necessity of amending the underlying zoning. This course illustrates the various types of overlay districts, and explains how they differ from traditional zoning measures and describes the form and contents of an overlay district. Discussion will allow participants to explore the potential pros and cons of overlay vs. traditional zoning.

  • Presenter: Jeff Levine, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
  • Host: Montachusett Regional Planning Commission


1. Roles & Responsibilities of Planning Boards and ZBAs

  • Date: October 20, 2022, 6:00 pm
  • Cost: $25

Join us for this webinar if you are a new Board member or building inspector. This program will launch you into your role as a local official, introduce you to the functions of the two boards and the main tools of planning and zoning. This session will also include an introductory discussion of the Open Meeting, Public Records, and the Conflict of Interest Laws. 

  • Presenter: Brian Currie, AICP
  • Host: Berkshire Regional Planning Agency

2. Creating Master Plans

  • Date: Tuesday, November 1, 2022, 5:30 PM
  • Cost: $25
  • Registration: closed

Local officials will learn why and how to prepare, adopt, and implement the master or comprehensive plan described in MGL Chapter 41, Section 81D.  The session will identify the sections of a master/comprehensive plan and specific steps by which the plan will be carried out.

  • Presenter: Alexis Lanzillotta, Barrett Planning Group
  • Host: Central Mass. Regional Planning Commission

3. Adopting & Revising Rules & Regulations

  • Date: Thursday, November 3, 2022, 6:00PM
  • Cost: $25
  • Registration: closed

Boards of appeal and planning boards frequently choose to, or are required to, adopt rules and regulations governing process, procedure and even the substance of their application reviews. While such documents are an important source of authority for boards, they also make life easier for board members and applicants by providing a clear road map for a fair and predictable process. This session will clarify which types of zoning, non-zoning and subdivision rules and regulations are mandatory and which are voluntary; describe what they can and cannot cover; and explain how they get adopted and amended. The regulatory framework for establishing fees and using consultants will also be discussed.

  • Presenter: Jim Robbins, Town of Westborough
  • Host: Pioneer Valley Planning Commission

4. Planning with Community Support

  • Date: Wednesday, November 9, 2022, 5:30pm
  • Cost: $25
  • Registration: closed

The course describes how to conduct a planning process, with an emphasis on a comprehensive or master plan that will ultimately have the support of the community. A variety of public participation strategies will be examined, including plan implementation processes.  The course will cover how to design the community engagement process.

  • Presenter: Ezra Glenn, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
  • Host: Old Colony Planning Council

Zoning Exemptions

  • Date: Wednesday, June 22nd, 5:30 pm
  • Cost: $20
  • Registration: Closed

Section 3 of the Zoning Act provide certain exemptions for agricultural, educational, childcare and religious uses, as well as state and federal lands and uses, from local zoning regulations.  This course explains these exemptions and their purpose; what does it mean to be exempted from zoning requirements; and identifies under which circumstances municipalities can enact and impose zoning regulations. The course will also cover how judicial decisions guide the way this section of the Zoning Act is interpreted.

  • Presenter:
    Jonathan Silverstein, attorney at Blatman, Bobrowski, Haverty & Silverstein, LLC
  • Moderator:
    Bruce Hughes, Senior Planner, Southeast Regional Planning Agency (retired)

Massachusetts Land Conservation Data and Tools:

Landscape-based Ecological Assessments for Open Space Protection and Land Use Planning

The recording of this workshop is available on the video page.

  • Date: Monday June 13th, 6:00pm
  • Cost: free
  • Registration: closed

In Massachusetts, multiple landscape-scale analyses have been conducted to identify areas of high conservation value. These include BioMap, CAPS, Critical Linkages, Nature’s Network, and The Nature Conservancy’s Resilient and Connected Network. The analyses vary in their objectives, methodologies, and scale of analysis (watershed, ecoregion, statewide, multi-state). In addition, there are data viewers and decision-support tools (MAPPR, MA Wildlife Climate Action Tool) that can be used to access and interpret these analyses. Information from these analyses and tools are particularly useful for the development of Open Space and Recreation Plans, but they are also useful for guiding development away from lands of high ecological value, via master plans, economic development plans, transportation improvement plans, Municipal Vulnerability Preparedness (MVP) plans, bylaws, and zoning. In this workshop, you will learn about landscape-scale assessments, conservation plans, and decision-support tools, the interrelationships among the data sources and tools, how they differ, and their intended uses.

We will also introduce the new Land Conservation Tools website from UMass Extension. It compiles the land conservation information sources and tools, developed by a variety of organizations, that are available to guide the decision making of Massachusetts practitioners. The website also summarizes the resources and organizes them in different ways to help practitioners more easily choose the ones best suited to their conservation work. Associated with the website are two summary outreach materials: a cheat sheet to the tools, and a view of the tools through a climate adaptation lens. Lastly, we will mention MassECAN – A community of practice for climate adaptation practitioners and researchers interested in ecosystem resilience and natural resource conservation in Massachusetts.

  • Presenters:
    Scott Jackson, Extension Professor, UMass Amherst
    Lee Halasz, master’s candidate, UMass Amherst
  • Moderator:
    Michael DiPasquale, Assistant Professor, UMass Amherst

  • Date: Monday, May 23, 222, 6:00 pm
  • Cost: $20
  • Register Registration is closed

Local officials will learn why and how to prepare, adopt, and implement the master or comprehensive plan described in MGL Chapter 41, Section D. The session will identify the sections of a master/comprehensive plan and specific steps by which the plan will be carried out.

  • Presenter:
    • Ralph Wilmer, FAICP
  • Moderator:
    • Katherine Lacy, Mass Housing Partnership
  • Register Registration is closed
  • Date: Thursday, April 21, 2022, 6:00 pm
  • Cost: $20
  • Registration: Register

Overlay zoning is a popular and useful tool allowing municipalities to implement land use policies and strategies with greater flexibility than traditional zoning, without the necessity of amending the underlying zoning. This course illustrates the various types of overlay districts, and explains how they differ from traditional zoning measures and describes the form and contents of an overlay district. Discussion will allow participants to explore the potential pros and cons of overlay vs. traditional zoning.

  • Presenter:
    • Jim Robbins, Westborough Town Planner
  • Moderators:

The recording of this workshop is available on the video page.

  • Date: Monday March 21, 2022 from 6:00-7:00PM
  • Cost: No Charge
  • Registration: Register

The webinar will discuss the legislation’s mandate to create at least one district allowing multifamily development “as of right” in the 175 MBTA Communities which are identified in the statute. This session will provide an overview of the draft guidelines, Technical Assistance available to help communities comply with the requirements and details about how to provide comments. To read the draft guidelines, FAQs and other information check out the MBTA Communities web page.

  • Presenters:
    • Secretary Kennealy, Executive Office of Housing and Community Development
    • Chris Kluchman, Department of Housing and Community Development
    • Clark Ziegler, Massachusetts Housing Partnership
  • Moderators:
    • Maren Toohill, Town Planner Littleton
    • Katy Lacy, Senior Planner, Mass Housing Partnership
  • Date: Thursday, February 24, 2022 from 6:00-7:30PMd
  • Cost: $20
  • Credit: CPTC level 2
  • Registration: Closed

The course will cover the issue of vested rights under zoning and subdivision law, why they exist, and how they affect the work of the Zoning Boards of Appeals and Planning Boards. Participants will learn what the Zoning Act says about vested rights and the way it occurs. This session will answer the question regarding whether nonconforming structures and uses can change and if so, how much. Finally, the course will address how judicial decisions shape the way provisions of the Zoning Act are interpreted today.

  • Presenter: 
    • Ilana Quirk, attorney
  • Moderator: 
    • Maren Toohill, Town Planner Littleton