Reading the legal abbreviations and searching the laws and regulations

Laws passed by the Legislature (or the General Court, as it is formally known in Massachusetts), are usually cited as follows: M.G.L. c. 253, s. 44. The particular law referred to is M.G.L. (for Massachusetts General Laws) c. (for chapter, just like in a book) 253 (the number of the chapter), s. (or sometimes, §, for section) 44 (the section number). The General Laws are available on-line, and can be searched.

Regulations are enforceable legal rules adopted by a state agency to carry out the laws. They are cited as follows: 310 C.M.R. 10.00. Here, 310 is the “title” number (each agency generally has its own number, with the first of the three numbers corresponding to a particular secretariat; environmental regulations are in the 300’s). C.M.R. stands for Code of Massachusetts Regulations, the compilation of all state regulations from all agencies. The final number is the section number. Many, but not all, Massachusetts regulations are available on-line.

Finally, the Town of Andover enacts its own by-laws. The legislative body empowered to enact the Town’s by-laws is our open Town Meeting. The by-laws of the Town include, as Article VIII, the Zoning By-Law. The Town provides on-line access to the by-laws.