MGL Ch. 40A, also known as the "Zoning Act" gives cities and towns authority to adopt ordinances and bylaws to regulate the use of land, buildings, and structures. Sections 9-9B & 11 govern special permits, and variances are covered under sections 10 and 11.
The Subdivision Control Law was enacted in 1953 and can be found in MGL Ch. 41, Sections 81M - 81Y. The law can be described as a comprehensive statutory scheme designed for the safety, convenience, and welfare of the inhabitants of the cities and towns in Massachusetts. It accomplishes this purpose by, among other things, regulating the laying out and construction of ways in subdivisions.