The Town of Braintree is embarking on an exciting project: the update of our Zoning Ordinance. What's so exciting about zoning? It impacts everything that can happen on properties all over town.  It's what helps sustain what we all know and love about Braintree, and helps change the things that need improvement. The Town wants to use this update process to make the zoning ordinance easier to use and enforce, clearer to understand, and responsive to current development trends.

WHAT is a ZONING ordinance?

Most cities and towns throughout the country, including Braintree, use zoning to regulate the use of land within their borders.  Zoning separates the community into different land use areas, or "zoning districts," depicted on the Town's Zoning Map.  For example, Braintree has numerous “residential zones” and “commercial zones.” The Town’s current Zoning Map can be viewed here (NOTE! This is a GIS layer and NOT an official zoning map. This link will be updated when an official map is available on line.) The Town’s current Zoning Bylaws can be viewed here.

Zoning became common about 100 years ago, and was used primarily as a way to keep people safe. For example, many cities used zoning to ensure that residential neighborhoods were not located too close to dangerous industrial uses.  Over time, zoning has evolved to achieve many different objectives.  Braintree uses its Zoning Ordinance to foster neighborhood development, create economic opportunity, protect natural resources, protect historic areas, and encourage the development of vibrant mixed use centers.


The Zoning Ordinance impacts different people in different ways. In general, they spell out what can be developed in each district and what permits are required.  Some other examples include:

  • Residents and Homeowners: Zoning controls how property can be used in residential zoning districts. For instance, zoning may prohibit the operation of a business in a single-family residential zone. It also controls how tall your home can be and how much space there needs to be between you and your neighbors.

  • Business Owners: Zoning determines where you can locate your business and how much parking you need. Zoning also regulates how large your sign can be and where it can be placed.

  • Developers: Zoning determines the size and shape of new development and where it can be located.For example, the number of homes that can be built within a subdivision is determined, in part, by the Zoning Ordinance.

  • Design and Construction Professionals: Zoning contains rules related to landscaping, parking, lighting, and building design, as well as the size and shape of new development.