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Massachusetts Land Use Blog

What factors can affect how you use your property?

When you buy commercial property or residential property in Massachusetts, you probably already know what you want to do with it. Whether you want to build a house, open a business or develop the land for other uses, there are various factors that could affect whether or not you will be able to meet your goals. It is important for you to learn about everything that could affect your intended use of your property. 

Zoning issues are some of the primary factors in how a person can use land or a building how he or she wants. For example, you may not be able to build your house in an area designated as commercial, or you may not be able to convert the old house you bought for your business headquarters. Learning about zoning before you buy or move forward can save you time, money and stress.

What is an easement?

Easements are an important part of property law to understand. They can also sometimes be complex to understand which is why landowners should be familiar with how easements work and ensure they have all their questions about easements answered.

Easements are a part of property law that is important to understand because an easement is essentially a property right that provides the holder of the easement with an interests in property that is owned by someone else. Easements are considered nonpossessory property rights that allow the holder of the easement to use the property the holder does not own or possess. The easement holder cannot exclude others from the property but the property owner also cannot exclude the easement holder. Easement holders may have rights and remedies against a party that interferes with their lawful use of the property.

Ownership rights, adverse possession and prescriptive easements

You may be one of many families here in Massachusetts whose family has owned the same piece of property for decades. You and your family have taken care of the property, perhaps built on it, paved it or otherwise use it consistently.

One day, a neighboring landowner comes to you and says that you are trespassing on a portion of his or her property. The other party told you to get off the land, but as far as you know, your family owns that land and has for a long time. This scenario often comes up when the land is up for sale or the new owner has moved in. When confronted with proof, you realize that the other party is -- technically -- right. Is there anything you can do?

What is an easement?

Easements are an important part of property law to understand. They can also sometimes be complex to understand which is why landowners should be familiar with how easements work and ensure they have all their questions about easements answered.

Easements are a part of property law that is important to understand because an easement is essentially a property right that provides the holder of the easement with an interest in property that is owned by someone else. Easements are considered nonpossessory property rights that allow the holder of the easement to use the property the holder does not own or possess. The easement holder cannot exclude others from the property but the property owner also cannot exclude the easement holder. Easement holders may have rights and remedies against a party that interferes with their lawful use of the property.

Protecting the property rights of landowners

Zoning and land use laws can have a big impact on property rights and the ability of a property owner to put their property to the use they envision for it. As a result, property owners should always understand local zoning rules and land use laws, the impact they have on their property and the legal resources and tools available to help address concerns that might come up related to zoning regulations and land use.

Zoning laws can impact the use of the landowner's property related to what use the property can be put to, structures that can be built on the property and how the property can be developed. Legal resources and tools can help property owners struggling with zoning rules and regulations and the impact they are having on their property by seeking a variance or addressing zoning enforcement decisions; addressing nonconforming uses, lots and structures; appealing special permits; conducting site plan reviews; and addressing concerns related to residential or commercial subdivision projects.

Do you know everything there is to know about your property?

You may think you know everything there is to know about your Massachusetts property, but you probably do not. Various issues of which you were unaware could impact the way you use your property, and it is smart to avoid complications by learning as much as you can about the building or land you own. One way to do this is by having a survey of your property done.

Property surveys are common when buying a new home or piece of land. However, if you never had one or it has been awhile, it may be time to go through this process again. While you may not see an immediate need for a property survey at this time, there are certain reasons why it could be beneficial. It is always worthwhile to take steps to protect your property rights and financial interests. 

When disputes arise over express easements

Among the things that can be very impactful for commercial property owners are easements. These are rights of use that a person has on the property of another. One common type of easement that can be present when it comes to commercial property is an express easement.

Navigating the site plan review process

A site plan assesses the potential impact of a development on the community. Local municipalities usually require this review, which considers layouts and designs. Real estate developers and landowners rely on approval to move forward with projects. Site plan reviews are also important in protecting resources and following zoning requirements.

Many factors can make site plan reviews challenging. There are ways to maximize your chance of receiving an approval.

Zoning considerations when looking to relocate your business

Relocating a business can be a major undertaking, and your decision to do so involves many considerations. If you determine that relocation is an appropriate step for your business, you will want to carefully research your business’ next possible location. Zoning laws will be an important facet of this research because they determine the allowed uses of properties and control things like noise level, parking, air quality, signage and building requirements.

Before signing any contract, you should make sure you know how that property is zoned, and if its zoning code matches the needs for your business. Most businesses will need to be in either a commercial or industrial zoning district, both of which usually have several subcategories within them. Commercial zoning usually includes office buildings, shopping centers, hotels and some apartment complexes. Industrial zoning typically includes manufacturing plants and some storage facilities.

Cranberry farmers now considering solarized bogs 

In Massachusetts alone, there are over 14,000 acres of cranberry bogs owned by around 400 farmers. However, Massachusetts has dropped down to the third largest cranberry producer, behind Wisconsin and Quebec. The state that was once the cranberry capital of the world is now experiencing setbacks against a saturated worldwide marketplace and increased expansion regulations.  

To keep up nowadays, some farmers in Massachusetts are attempting a new method of cranberry production. This new method is solar panels.  

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