The Cambridge Zoning Ordinance regulates the development and use of real property in the City and is controlled by MGL 40A . Building permit applications are reviewed for compliance with the Ordinance prior to the issuance of a building permit. Some uses and/or developments of real property may require relief from the Board of Zoning Appeal (BZA).
The BZA hears requests for Variances, Special Permits, Comprehensive Permits, and Appeals. A Variance is required if the proposed use or development is prohibited by the Ordinance. A Special Permit is required where the proposed use or development is identified by the Ordinance as requiring one. A Comprehensive Permit is required for certain subsidized housing projects. The BZA also hears appeals of Zoning Determinations made by the Inspectional Services Department.
Zoning applications are available through our online permitting system.