One of the most vexing issues involving zoning and land use practice in Massachusetts is how site plan review decisions, rendered by local planning boards, are appealed. In fact, we were recently asked by Mass. Lawyers Weekly to comment on this topic, as well as a recent Land Court decision on the same.
Real estate development in the Boston area can be quite complicated and starts with the proper planning. With specific land use laws in place, along with Massachusetts laws and other local regulations, many developers can find themselves facing an uphill battle before they even start.
It's an all too common scenario: a landowner builds something on his property, and then an abutter or neighbor thinks it is being built unlawfully and tries to stop it. In fact, let's assume that the landowner has already gone through an initial site plan review (as required by his town's zoning bylaw) and obtained a building permit accordingly thereafter.
When it comes to site plan review, perhaps too many zoning attorneys know all too well the following scenario.
Before proceeding with any project, it is essential to determine whether the municipality requires site plan review and approval. More importantly, because the procedure for appealing a site plan denial can be confusing, it is prudent to retain legal counsel well versed in these types of cases.