Starting a Business in Fitchburg

FitchburgDowntown_RiverviewLooking North

A Clear and Predictable Permitting Process

Developing property-whether starting a new business or building a new home-can be complicated. We’ll work to ensure you have all the information you need to make the right investment decision in the City of Fitchburg.

The Fitchburg Land Development Guide [Guía de Desarrollo de Tierras] was created to provide guidance for the different permits and boards involved in this process. But here are an outline of the key steps:

  1. Once you’ve identified a location, meet with Economic Development Director Mary Jo Bohart to discuss your plans.
  2. Submit a Form of Intent to the Building Commissioner’s Office. This will enable them to determine whether your proposed use is allowed under zoning, and what permits and approvals you will need.
  3. Larger and more complicated projects: When your plan is ready for review, schedule a Development Review meeting to review your plans with relevant municipal officials. A review team meets on the 1st and 3rd Thursdays, from 10-11:30, and is available by appointment. If you think your project would be appropriate for a development review complete this request form for the Department to confirm eligibility.

The Boards and Commissions Overview

The following are a list of potential departments, boards and commissions you may encounter along your journey:

  1. Building Commissioner: The Building Commissioner interprets and enforces the State Building Code, the Fitchburg Zoning Ordinance, and relevant portions of the City Code. The Building Department issues building permits, occupancy permits, wiring permits, plumbing permits, sign permits and natural gas permits. 
  2. The Planning Board: The Planning Board is responsible for approving "Approval Not Required" Plans, subdivision plans, site plans and various type of special permits. The Planning Board also issues scenic road permits in conjunction with the Tree Warden. 
  3. Board of License Commissioners: The Fitchburg License Commission is responsible for the issuance of licenses, and promulgation of rules and regulations, respecting the sale of alcoholic beverages for consumption or sale; operation of automatic amusement devices such as pin-ball machines, pool tables and video games; operation of lodging houses. 
  4. Zoning Board of Appeals: The Zoning Board of Appeals grants variances from the Zoning Ordinance, some types of special permits and also hears appeals of decisions of administrative offices such as the Building Commissioner.
  5. Board of Health: The Board of Health issues permits for sewage disposal, private water supplies, solid waste removal, stump disposal and rodent control.
  6. Fitchburg Fire Prevention Bureau: The Fire Prevention Bureau enforces all fire safety laws and regulations of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. The Fire Prevention Bureau issue permits for fire protection systems, cutting and welding, flammable fluids, solids and gases, LP gas storage, above and below ground storage tanks, explosives and oil burner installations. Contact Lieutenant Phil Jordan for more information.
  7. Conservation Commission: The principal role of the Conservation Commission is the administration of the Wetlands Protection Act and the local Fitchburg Wetlands Protection Ordinance. Any proposed work  in or near a wetland, stream, or resource area requires the approval of the Conservation Commission. 
  8. Department of Public Works: Besides maintaining the City's infrastructure, the DPW issues permits related to work being performed int the public right-of-way, including permits for curb cuts, sewer connections and trench permits.