Sandwich was an early adopter of Zoning, the first mention of it in town dates back to the early 1930’s after the big fire in Center Sandwich. Sandwich adopted a comprehensive Zoning Ordinance in the 1960’s. Part of the law establishing the right of Towns to adopt Zoning is to have a vehicle in place to appeal land use decision denials by the governing body. This appeals body, in Sandwich, is the Zoning Board of Appeals or ZBA. The ZBA hears appeals to denials of permits due to wetland setbacks or setbacks to property lines, allowed usage, steep slope and lot size issues and other items set out in the Zoning Ordinance.
The ZBA works to ensure that the rights of land owners and abutters are considered fairly as applied to the Zoning Ordinance which the whole Town had voted on and accepted as a kind of overall plan of what we want the Town to look like and be. The ZBA also hears appeals to administrative decisions made by other Town Boards to assure fairness and compliance with the Zoning Ordinance.
The ZBA consists of five regular members and three alternate members all appointed by the Selectmen for three year terms. At the moment, we are down to the five regular members and are in great need of three alternate members to be able to serve when a regular member is absent or has a conflict of interest. It is an interesting and collegial Board made up of people of various backgrounds.
We encourage any fair minded resident, not prejudiced for or against development and willing to fairly interpret the Zoning Ordinance, to apply to the Selectmen’s Office by letter or e-mail.
Without citizen volunteers the Town will wither and die. One of the ancient canards in Sandwich is “The same dozen people serve in all the positions in Town!”. Well that is only true if YOU don’t make the time and effort to volunteer. There are a dozen easy excuses not to volunteer. Be one of those people who step up and make a difference.