Phillips & Angley

Nonconforming uses in land development

Boston area property developers are used to the many issues that can come up during their project. From variances to real estate permits to nonconforming structures, there is always something that needs to be figured out. Nonconforming uses is a common issue for many Boston area properties.

The terms nonconforming use or nonconforming structure are familiar for many property developers in Massachusetts. This is when a structure or use of land was conforming to existing laws when it originated but now no longer meets local zoning ordinances. Massachusetts law allows for these structures or land uses to exist if they were in compliance with the zoning ordinances at the time of their creation and they are given a grandfathered status. However, if there is any change with the structure or use, then they lose their grandfathered status. Also, if a property has sat vacant for two years, it also loses its status.

Those who purchase property in Massachusetts should be aware of the nonconforming use that may be on the property. Many times, the vacant property rule can impact a buyer of a property. A legal professional who specializes in nonconforming use can help their client understand what they are really purchasing. They can investigate the property's history and determine if any nonconforming use is present. If necessary, they can offer legal representation to protect their client's interests in the property. They can guide their client through the local and state zoning regulations and other legal procedures that can affect their property.

There can be surprises when it comes to purchasing property in Massachusetts. A nonconforming land use or a nonconforming structure is sometimes a point of contention for many property developers.

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