Phillips & Angley

Massachusetts Land Use Blog

Cell tower development often faces obstacles

According to a Pew Research Center survey, 95 percent of Americans own a cellphone or smartphone. Cell tower companies are scrambling to keep up with the demand. There is no sign of the need for connection slowing down anytime soon. Regardless, the trend poses some problems. 

How do utility easements impact a property?

Most business owners have an entrepreneurial spirit. Freedom and flexibility can benefit future projects. Purchasing the right property for professional or personal endeavors takes time, planning and financial resources. It is often frustrating when plans are canceled or stalled due to underlying problems. 

Is it ever possible to vary from designated zoning restrictions?

As a small business owner in Massachusetts, you understand the specific challenges that can come with finding an appropriate place for your company. It can be expensive and stressful to locate a property that will work for your growing business, but there are issues that can stand between you and your goal of leasing or purchasing the space. 

Zoning restrictions can determine how occupants can use certain spaces. For example, some buildings are only for commercial use, not for residential purposes. Using a space in a way that varies from its designated zoning can lead to legal complications. However, it may be possible to seek a variance in order to start using or continue to use a building for your specific or unique business needs.

A basic understanding of land use and zoning could be beneficial

Whether you want to build a business or purchase property for residential purposes, it is always smart to know what factors could affect how you use the land. In Massachusetts, there are certain zoning laws in place that determine whether or not buildings in certain areas can be used as homes, for industrial purposes or for commercial use. Before you buy, it is smart to understand how land use and zoning issues could affect you.

If you are unfamiliar with zoning and restrictions on land use, it can be beneficial to make the effort to gain a basic understanding of these matters. When it comes to your financial investment and how you want to use your land, you need to know how to protect your interests. Many landowners find it beneficial to secure legal guidance as they work through complex land use and zoning concerns.

Making sense of zoning classifications

Whether you are a new investor, developer or just looking for the right property, you probably have numerous questions regarding why a piece of property falls under certain zoning laws. The general idea behind zoning is to provide Massachusetts residents with a pleasant and peaceful place to live.

Few people would want to live next door to a large, noisy and perhaps smelly factory. Most people wouldn't want bars, medical marijuana dispensaries or strip clubs near their children's schools or their homes. Even so, in many areas, people now want to live closer to entertainment, where they work and other commercial establishments.

What happens if a neighbor encroaches on my property?

When another party fails to recognize the boundaries of your personal or commercial property in Massachusetts, it can lead to complications and even legal disputes. This is especially true when someone puts up a structure on what is actually your property without permission. 

Encroachment happens when another person, business or other entity puts up a structure on a neighboring property. Sometimes, this is because the other party does not know where the boundary lines are, but in some cases, it is an intentional act. Regardless of the motivation behind the encroaching structure, you have the right to take action and protect your property rights.

New to commercial real estate? Know the basics of zoning

Perhaps your business has rented in the past, but now your company has grown to the point where you want to set up your own shop on your own land. Finding the perfect place to do so often takes a great deal of time and consideration.

After you find a location you believe will suit your purposes, you may want to jump right in and make an offer. Before you do that, you need to know whether it is zoned for your intended purposes, but since you've never dealt with a commercial property purchase before, you may have questions regarding zoning and how it will affect your plans.

Landlocked properties need special treatment

When someone showed you a piece of property that you believe suits your purposes, you probably didn't think twice about the road you took to get to it. You decide to move forward with the purchase only to find out that the property is landlocked and the road you took to access it is on land owned by another party.

The route you took to view the property included traveling through property owned by someone else. Now, you have a problem. You need to make sure that you obtain the legal right to use that ingress and egress in order to get to the property you want to purchase.

Standing and Quasi-Municipal and Charitable Organizations, Part I of II: "Person Aggrieved" Status Requires a Relationship with Real Property

A few years ago, I posted a two-part review of the state of the law for standing under the Zoning Act. Standing refers to a claimant's legal right to bring a claim. Not every person has the right to bring every claim. As previously discussed, this principle is especially true and significant in zoning appeals brought by neighbors, abutting property owners, rather than by applicant property owners. While the decisional law has not substantially changed since my post from 2015, our office recently encountered a case that involved some interesting questions about standing under G. L. c. 40A:

Is the property you want subject to easements?

Finding the right property depends on a variety of factors. You may look at several tracts of land before deciding on one. Once you do, you begin the process involved in completing the transaction. As part of that process, a title search occurs that tells you the history of the property, including any easements that may exist.

Easements grant someone else the right to use a portion of the land you intend to buy. More than one type of easement exists, and understanding each of them, along with how they could affect your use of the property, along with its value, is crucial.

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