TEWKSBURY — Process improvements and customer service are part of the objective of the new online abutters list system just implemented by the Tewksbury Assessor’s office.
According to chief assessor Joanne Foley, an abutters list is required by various town boards, typically for permitting. Boards that typically require an abutters list are Zoning Board of Appeals, Conservation Commission, Planning Board, Board of Health and Board of Selectmen.
The residents, businesses or developers requesting an abutters list are usually doing so because the property owner has started the process of obtaining a permit from one of the boards and are required to notify the abutters. An abutter is an owner or owners of an adjoining property. Each board has its own abutters list requirements depending upon their bylaw regulations, according to Foley.
Abutters lists are only required if an applicant for a building permit has to go to a board in order for the permit to be valid. According to Alexandra Lowder of the Community Development department, simply installing a pool or building an addition does not warrant abutter notification as it would be a standalone building permit, so long as the project is within all permissible requirements and codes.
When something falls outside of zoning, wetlands, and building department provisions, Lowder said that is when the need to seek approval from boards comes into play. Abutter notification requirements are the same for residents, businesses, and anyone who is required to go before a statutory board.
Examples include altering or building an addition on a previously non-conforming lot, plans for a new subdivision, or a project that might extend into a wetlands boundary.
“It is best to check with Community Development if there are any questions about the requirements for a proposed project, large or small,” said Lowder.
Foley said the process of obtaining a list requires an applicant to fill out a form and provide payment prior to the list being prepared. When an abutters list is requested, the assessor’s office provides a certified abutters list of parcel numbers, ownership, and mailing addresses for each parcel within the specified area.
According to Foley, “There are all different types of requirements, some are by feet, others are by direct abutters, or abutters to abutters. These are determined by the bylaws.”
The list, which is custom created for each applicant, is then used for a mailing that is sent to each abutter so the abutter is informed about the intentions of an applicant. The price for an abutters list is $15 and for an additional $5 the office will send the list in spreadsheet form. A spreadsheet is often used by applicants that abut a condominium complex, for example, and use spreadsheet to ease the preparation of mailing labels.
Foley said that providing this service helps to expedite the entire process for the customer. Prior to the online process, an applicant had to physically drop off the request with payment or send it by mail. Once the list was executed, the applicant either physically returned to retrieve the list or it was mailed. Working with the other town departments, the assessor’s office has enabled the entire process to be performed electronically.
“We expect the new online process to be quicker and less complicated for both the requestors and town departments” said Foley.
This is also a contactless option. The abutter list request page is located at https://www.tewksbury-ma.gov/assessors-office/pages/abutters-list