Mayor Morse Seeks Volunteers to Serve Planning Board and Board of Appeals Text Size

Mayor Alex B. Morse is seeking dedicated residents to fill four vacancies on City Boards; an Associate Member of the Planning Board, and a Member and two Associate Members of the Board of Appeals. Both Boards are staffed by the Office of Planning & Economic Development and are responsible in making decisions that serve the long-term interests of the community through interpreting the Holyoke Zoning Ordinance and Subdivision Control Act. Current residents with professional backgrounds in planning, real estate, engineering, construction and law are strongly encouraged to apply although all backgrounds will be considered. Each opportunity is on an unpaid, volunteer basis and will be appointed by the Mayor and confirmed by the City Council.

The Associate Member appointed for the Planning Board will serve the remainder of a term set to expire June 30, 2014, at which time they may be eligible for reappointment to a full five-year term.  The appointees to the Board of Appeals will serve full three-year terms. On both Boards, Associate Members will attend meetings, discuss and vote when another member cannot and a quorum is needed.

Those interested should submit letters of interest and resumes to the Mayor’s Office, Room 1, City Hall, 536 Dwight Street, Holyoke, MA. See below for more details on each Board.


The Holyoke Planning Board

The Planning Board is responsible for protecting the health, safety and welfare of Holyoke residents while balancing the rights of property owners through the consideration of project submittals, public testimony, and city department comments in conjunction with the laws established for regulating such development through the Holyoke Zoning Ordinance, Massachusetts General Law (MGL), Chapter 41, Section 81A, and MGL Chapter 40A.  The establishment of municipal Planning Boards is authorized by Massachusetts General Law, Chapter 41, Section 81A. Among its many diverse roles, the Planning Board is charged with the following duties, paraphrased here from the Mass. General Law:


  • Adopting a master plan and official map of the City
  • Conducting studies, and, when necessary, preparing plans of the resources, possibilities and needs of the City for submittal to the City Council for their consideration
  • Serving as the local authority for the Subdivision Control Act; adopting Rules and Regulations governing the subdivision of land in the City of Holyoke; reviewing all preliminary and definitive plan submittals.
  • Drafting and submitting zoning amendments for consideration by the municipality. When a zoning amendment has been put forward, the Planning Board holds a public hearing jointly with the City Council Ordinance Committee and reports its recommendation to the City Council.
  • Serving, in some instances, as the Special Permit Granting Authority
  • Serving as Site Plan Review Authority


Plans are submitted to the Board by applicants who want to develop their land for residential, commercial or other uses. The procedures to follow in reviewing such plans are clearly spelled out in Massachusetts General Laws and in the Holyoke Zoning Ordinance. The project may involve the need for a Site Plan Review, a Special Permit, Subdivision Review, or the signing of an Approval-Not-Required (ANR) plan. Board Members shall come to a meeting or hearing prepared to review applications or to make informed decisions on matters before the Board.

The Holyoke Planning Board consists of five Members, and one Associate Member appointed by the Mayor for staggered five year terms. Regular meetings are held on the second and fourth Tuesdays of each month at 6:00 p.m. in the 4th Floor Conference Room of the City Hall Annex, or at such other times and places as the Planning Board may designate, due to special circumstances.  All meetings and hearings shall follow procedures outlined in the Open Meeting Law and follow Robert’s Rules of Order.


The Holyoke Board of Appeals

The Board of Appeals is a three member board with two associate members who may participate if a member is absent, unable to act, or has a conflict of interest. A quorum of the board constitutes three members, and is necessary to conduct a public hearing.

An appeal to the permit granting authority may be taken by any person aggrieved by reason of their inability to obtain a permit or enforcement action from any administrative officer under the provisions of the Building Code, by the regional planning agency in whose area the city is situated or by any order or decision by any person, including an officer or board of the city, or an abutting city or town aggrieved by an order or decision of the inspector of buildings, or other ordinance or by-law adopted under it.

The Board meets at least twice per year or as necessary, and may consider several matters or at the discretion of Staff per hearing.  Meetings and hearings are scheduled for the last Wednesday of the month at 6:00 p.m. in the City Hall Annex, 4th Floor, at 20 Korean Veterans Plaza.

For more information on the nature of the boards and roles of its members, please contact the Office of Planning & Economic Development at (413) 322-5575 or

Posted on August 5, 2013 by