Planning & Community Development

Please see individual division pages for more information and meeting dates.

Notice of Committee Vacancy - Design Review Board

Planning  (see options in the side column as well)


Zoning Board of Appeals   



The mission of the Department of Planning and Economic Development is to provide professional planning services to the community regarding land use, public facilities, economic development and transportation systems so that the Town may continue to be a quality place to live, work and play. To carry out this mission, the department is organized into two divisions according to work function under the auspices of the Planning Board namely, the Planning Department and the Economic Development Department.

The Planning Board

The Planning Board is charged with broad statutory responsi­bilities to guide the physical growth and development of Needham in a coordinated and comprehensive manner. Specifically, the Planning Board is legally mandated to carry out certain provisions of the Subdivision Control Law (M.G.L, Chapter 41, Section 81-K to 81-GG) and of the Zoning Act (M.G.L, Chapter 40A). These legal responsibilities are reflected locally in the Subdivision Rules and Regulations and Procedural Rules of the Planning Board and in the Town’s Zoning By-Law.

The specific services that the Planning Board provides are as follows:

  • Review and Approval/Disapproval of:
    • Approval-Not-Required (ANR) Plans
    • Preliminary Subdivision Plans
    • Definitive Subdivision Plans, including ongoing administration
    • Site Plans of certain larger developments (major projects)*
    • Residential Compounds (RC’s) (This includes Special Permit Decisions, with legal notices, public hearings, and written decisions; similar statutory procedures are followed for Definitive Subdivision Plans.)
    • Scenic Road Applications
  • Review and Advisory Reports on:
    • Site Plans of certain smaller developments (minor projects)
    • Applications to the Board of Appeals for variances and special permits
    • Petitions for acceptance / discontinuance of public ways.
  • Initiation, Development, and Presentation of Proposed Zoning Amendments to Town Meeting
  • Preparation and Maintenance of a Master Plan and related planning studies to guide future physical growth and development in Needham (including studies referred to the Board by Town Meeting)
  • Revisions to "Subdivision Regulations and Procedural Rules of the Planning Board" and printing of the same
  • Reprinting of Town Zoning By-Laws and Zoning Map
  • Provision of Information on Planning, Zoning and Development matters to the public (including residents, developers, and other government agencies)

It is important to note that if these services are not performed, the Town of Needham would be without the administration of land use planning and zoning regulations, and may be subject to lawsuits from private developers and citizens alike.