U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government

Official websites use .gov
A .gov website belongs to an official government organization in the United States.

Secure .gov websites use HTTPS
A lock ( ) or https:// means you’ve safely connected to the .gov website. Share sensitive information only on official, secure websites.

Members Sought for Cambridge Board of Zoning Appeal. BZA Members to Receive Annual Stipend beginning in January 2023. Application Deadline Extended to 11-14-22

Cambridge City Manager Yi-An Huang is seeking persons interested in serving on the Cambridge Board of Zoning Appeal (BZA). Beginning in January 2023, BZA members will receive an annual stipend of $3,500, and Associate BZA Members will receive an annual stipend of $2,000. The BZA application deadline has been extended to Monday, November 14.

What is the Board of Zoning Appeal (BZA)?
The BZA is a quasi-judicial body that conducts public hearings on all applications and appeals before it and issues decisions. The BZA is made up of five members and up to seven associate members. The members are appointed by the City Manager, and then approved by the City Council. Regular members generally serve a 5-year term, while associates serve a 2-year term.

What is the role of the BZA?
The BZA has an important role in issuing decisions that shape the use and appearance of buildings in our community. Under the Cambridge Zoning Ordinance, certain uses and types of development may require a variance, special permit, or comprehensive permit from the BZA. The BZA also hears appeals of Zoning Determinations made by the Commissioner of Inspectional Services.

Who can apply to join the BZA?
All BZA members must be Cambridge residents. There is no requirement for a technical background to serve on the BZA; however, an interest in and understanding of development, architecture, urban design, and zoning law is desirable. The City is committed to advancing a culture of antiracism, diversity, equity, and inclusion. All board and commission members in Cambridge must have the ability to work and interact effectively with individuals and groups with a variety of identities, cultures, backgrounds, and ideologies. Women, minorities, veterans, members of the LGBTQ+ community, and persons with disabilities are encouraged to apply.

What kind of skills and abilities do you need to effectively serve on the BZA?
Members of the BZA should be able to:

  • Participate in a collaborative process with other Board members;
  • Consider diverse ideas and perspectives;
  • Apply the provisions of the Cambridge Zoning Ordinance and the state’s Zoning Act to the facts presented in applications and petitions to the Board in quasi-judicial proceedings;
  • Demonstrate strong attentiveness and listening skills to long and complicated presentations and discussions.

How much of a time commitment is BZA?
The BZA meets twice each month on Thursday evenings for approximately 3-4 hours. Members are expected to attend all meetings, and associate members attend on an as needed basis. Under the provisions of the Massachusetts Open Meeting Law, meetings are usually required to be in person; although the BZA has been meeting remotely under the temporary Open Meeting Law provisions established during the COVID-19 pandemic and may continue to meet remotely through March 2023.

Members must review application and petition materials prior to each meeting they attend. Materials may include development plans and specifications, narrative descriptions, analyses of the applicability of provisions of the Zoning Ordinance to applications, petitions, and appeals before the Board, information from City departments, written comments from the public, and other documents.

Do BZA members get compensated for their time?
Beginning in January 2023, BZA members will receive an annual stipend of $3,500, and Associate BZA Members will receive an annual stipend of $2,000.  

How can I apply?
Individuals interested in being considered should apply by using the City’s online application system at www.cambridgema.gov/apply and selecting “Board of Zoning Appeal” in the list of Current Vacancies. A cover letter and résumé or summary of applicable experience can be submitted during the online application process. Paper applications are available in the City Manager’s Office at Cambridge City Hall, 795 Massachusetts Avenue. The deadline for submitting applications has been extended to November 14, 2022.

Page was posted on 10/14/2022 10:21 AM
Page was last modified on 7/24/2023 9:59 PM
Contact Us

How can we help?

Please provide as much detail below as possible so City staff can respond to your inquiry:

As a governmental entity, the Massachusetts Public Records Law applies to records made or received by the City. Any information received through use of this site is subject to the same provisions as information provided on paper.

Read our complete privacy statement

Service Requests

Enter a service request via Commonwealth Connect for things like missed trash pickups, potholes, etc., click here