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Permitting Guide
This guide will briefly introduce you to the development and construction permitting process in Tewksbury.  The more research you do in the planning stage, the easier it will be to meet the Town’s requirements, and also acquire State and Federal permits and approvals, which are sometimes necessary.

This guide is for information only; it does not have the force of law.  Please refer to the applicable laws and regulations for specific technical and procedural requirements.  In most cases, you will need professional assistance in such areas as land survey, architecture, engineering, law and transportation planning.

The usual process toward obtaining a permit would involve some, or all, of the following departments:


We suggest you start here because, in Tewksbury, the Building Commissioner must issue a permit for any new or modified use of land.  He, or his staff, will be able to advise you of the regulations that may be applicable to your project. We suggest that you either submit a Building Permit Application or a “Letter of Intent” in order that the proper determination can be made within a timely manner. You will be directed to the Board of Appeals, Planning Board or other regulatory agencies as required.

SIGNS –  The Zoning By-Laws regulate the size, location and number of attached and free-standing signs in all zoning districts.  The Building Commissioner is authorized to issue a sign permit that conforms to the Zoning By-Laws.  To erect more or larger signs than permitted, will require a variance from the Board of Appeals.


The Zoning By-Laws authorize the Board of Appeals to issue special permits for regulated uses, consider variances for proposed exceptions and hear appeals of decisions of administrative officers.  The zoning process will involve an advertised public hearing, and your application will, in many instances, be sent to appropriate Town boards for prior review and recommendation. Due to statuary regulations, you should allow approximately 90 days to complete the Board of Appeals process and issuance of a Building Permit.


Work in, or within, 100 feet of a wetland (defined in the MA Wetlands Protection Act and the Tewksbury Wetland Protection By-Law), work on storm drains or drainage systems, projects affecting or abutting town-owned open space, and projects affecting or including conservation restriction, must be reviewed by the Commission.  The Conservation Administrator can tell you if your project falls under Conservation Commission  jurisdiction; conservation impacts are not always apparent, so it is advisable to get the information ahead of time.


Most commercial developments will require a Site Plan Special Permit from the Planning Board.


Complete demolition of any building will require approval from the Historic Commission in accordance with Town By-Laws, Chapter 15.12.


Residential additions for homes served by private septic systems require a system review. Commercial projects require special consultation to determine applicable requirements and permits. The Health Officer can explain the procedures for obtaining approvals.


Permits for those properties connected to the Town’s Municipal Sewer System and the Town’s Municipal Water system are approved by the Town Engineer and DPW Superintendent.

In general, the public utility is responsible for obtaining the necessary street opening permit for installation of service.  You should first contact the specific utility company.


How long will it take to get a permit? – It depends on how many, and what kinds of permits you need.  Many applications can be processed simultaneously, but some, most importantly, the Building Permit, require that others be in place first.  Staff can help you estimate the length of time your permits will take.

The Planning Department sells the Zoning By-Laws, as well as Subdivision Rules and Regulations.  The local Wetland Protection By-Law is available at the Conservation Commission Office.

Copies of the Zoning Bylaws, Subdivision Rules and Regulations and Wetland Protection Bylaw are sold at the Community Development Office. They are also available on the internet at