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Massachusetts Zoning & Land Use Blog

Rezoning could make that piece of property perfect

After conducting an exhaustive search for a piece of property that you believe would be the ideal location for your business, you discover that it's not zoned for your use. Do you move on and give up on that stretch of land?

Don't give up just yet. It may be possible to rezone the parcel to put the property into compliance with the land use and zoning laws of the area. Obtaining a change in the applicable zoning laws may require assistance.

Is this the right place to set up shop? Check for zoning issues

You have decided to open your own business. Congratulations! It is undoubtedly an exciting time in your life. When looking for the right place to set up shop, you may run into a few problems, though. Zoning laws in Massachusetts limit commercial property, so finding just the right location that fits your needs may be a bit of a challenge.

Many small business owners start out by renting commercial space. It is a safe way to go until their business really take off. It also allows them freedom to move if they feel it necessary. However, depending on the type of business you are opening, some commercial spaces that are available for rent may not end up working for you due the property's current zoning. If you find the perfect spot and zoning doesn't work with your needs, you may be able to fight for a zoning change.

Should you trust the legal description on the deed to your land?

Where does your property end and your neighbor's property begin? Do you rely on the description in your deed to know where to put a fence line? What happens if that description is wrong? What if your property line isn't where you thought it was?

One wrong number or reference in a legal description can make a difference in the boundary of your land. Misinterpreting the description can be costly. If you find yourself facing a dispute about the boundaries of your property, you might invest in a survey to be sure what property you actually own. As an added benefit, a survey will more than likely provide you with more information than just the boundary lines of your property.

Putting up a new telecommunications tower isn't only your call

Since the explosion of cell phone usage in the United States, providers have struggled to keep up with the demands for more coverage and better service. Having a reputation for dropped calls could essentially ruin a telecommunications company, so ensuring that enough towers are in place to prevent that eventuality is crucial.

Erecting new towers is about much more than buying some real estate, however. First, you must jump through some hurdles set up to protect the environment and the public and satisfy the aesthetic desires of property developers and owners.

Panning for gold in the waters of commercial real estate

It seems like such an easy thing. You purchase a piece of land and develop it into commercial property. Perhaps your dream includes office buildings or retail space, or maybe you plan to join the many in Massachusetts who are creating multi-use buildings to attract customers for a variety of purposes.

Whatever your idea involves, there is no shortage of available space to build your project and no end of uses for that property. Before dumping your hard-earned and carefully saved money into a newborn scheme, investment advisors recommend you examine the pros and cons of taking on such a risky idea.

What you need to know about zoning changes

If you purchase a piece of land, a building or other type of property in Massachusetts, the way that you use the property must adhere to its current zoning designation. Zoning restrictions are what prevent builders from putting a convenience store in the middle of a neighborhood and other similar situations. The intent is to protect the integrity and appropriate use of the surrounding buildings, property and area at large.

However, you may purchase a piece of property that does not currently have a designation that meets your needs or intentions. In some cases, you may be able to walk through the appropriate course of action to secure a change in zoning.

Implied easements: what are they and what do they mean for me?

Legal issues related to property are complex, and they can be difficult to understand for a person who is unfamiliar with and does not understand real estate and property laws. When it comes to navigating some of the complex issues that can arise, it is useful to work with a lawyer with experience in Massachusetts property law.

Easements are some of the most complicated matters to address when it comes to your property rights. Having an easement means that you have a non-possessing yet legally binding interest in another person's property. As an example, an easement would allow you to enter private property if it is the only way to gain access to public property.

Real help for avoiding problems with real estate transactions

The decision to buy or sell a house is a major legal and financial decision, one that can have a serious impact on personal finances for decades to come. Because of the long-reaching impact of a transaction of this magnitude, you would be wise to work actively to avoid potential problems and eliminate complications at every step.

Most people see the importance of having the assistance of a realtor, but few see how important it can be to have a real estate attorney as well. Even a seemingly straightforward transaction can become complicated, and you could certainly benefit from knowledgeable guidance as you deal with real estate contracts.

Challenging Zoning Bylaws: Standing: Another Jurisdictional Consideration

This is the fourth in a series of posts on challenges to zoning bylaws and ordinances. Before reaching the merits of zoning challenges, one more jurisdictional issue should be considered: standing-also referred to in the case law as "harm", "injury" or "aggrievement". "'The question of standing is one of critical significance. "From an early day it has been an established principle in this Commonwealth that only persons who have themselves suffered, or who are in danger of suffering, legal harm can compel the courts to assume the difficult and delicate duty of passing upon the validity of the acts of a coordinate branch of government.'"' Ginther v. Commissioner of Ins., 427 Mass. 319, 322 (1988), quoting Tax Equity Alliance v. Commissioner of Revenue, 423 Mass. 708, 715 (1996), ultimately quoting Doe v. The Governor, 381 Mass. 702, 705 (1980).

Understanding the lingo could keep you from crossing the line

One of the biggest considerations regarding your property is where it begins and ends. In some cases, you and your neighbor or some other third party could end up in a dispute regarding exactly where those lines lie. Boundary disputes can quickly become complicated and could require court intervention to resolve.

As you attempt to resolve the matter, you could hear several words thrown around by the other party or the attorneys. Understanding the meanings of those words may alleviate some of your frustration and trepidation regarding the process as you work to resolve your property issues.