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Land Use Archives

WHEN A TREE STRADDLES THE BOUNDARY LINE

A recent Land Court case, Bassin v. Fairley, 11 MISC 451773 (AHS) (Mass. Land Ct. June 17, 2014), provides a good reminder of the kind of inquiry a court will make when deciding whether a landowner can remove a tree that straddles a common boundary line.

Massachusetts High Court Expands Prior Decision to Allow Unilateral Reduction of Easement Area by Servient Estate

The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court (SJC) confirmed that its move away from the common law requirement of mutual consent for easement relocation was broad and included the ability to alter not only the location but the dimensions of easements. The SJC's decision in Martin v. Simmons Properties, LLC, on January 16, 2014 presented the SJC with its first chance to elaborate upon and expand its prior holding in M.P.M. Builders, LLC v. Dwyer, 442 Mass. 87, 809 N.E.2d 1053 (2004), discussed in detail in my article on developments in the eight years since the M.P.M. Builders decision.

EASEMENTS AND AFTER-ACQUIRED PROPERTY

Landowners who purchase and combine multiple, adjoining lots can sometimes find themselves in a quandary if there is an existing easement that benefits only one of those lots. To illustrate, picture three adjacent lots: A, B, and C. When these lots were initially created, an easement was created on Lot A so that the owner of Lot B could access his lot. There was no similar easement created for Lot C at that time.

HISTORIC NEW ENGLAND STEWARDSHIP EASEMENT PROGRAM

The age of Massachusetts lends itself well to preservation easements. These kinds of easements, also referred to as preservation restrictions, create tax and other benefits for owners of historic properties in exchange for certain restrictions that will protect and preserve the historical and architectural significance of relevant structures and/or landscape features.

CONSERVATION RESTRICTIONS - A BRIEF OVERVIEW

For owners of environmentally sensitive land, granting a conservation restriction (also referred to as a conservation easement) is a land use tool that may make sense in some cases. Though they are a voluntary limitation on the use of land, common reasons to grant a conservation restriction include,

Prescriptive Easements On Appellate Review: The Importance of Subsidiary Findings at Trial

On February 8, 2013, the Supreme Judicial Court another land use/real estate decision in White v. Hartigan, 464 Mass. 400 (2013), a case on direct appellate review from the Land Court. At issue in the case (a quiet title action) was whether the plaintiffs owned a fractional interest in a beach located on Martha's Vineyard, or, alternatively, whether they had acquired a prescriptive easement to use the beach and the land leading thereto.

M.P.M. Builders: A Useful Tool for Resolving Easement Disputes

Easements come up a lot in our practice at Phillips & Angley (for a recap of easement basics, see our April 19, 2012 post). When we receive a call involving an easement, the easement, or right of way, is typically the focus of the dispute, but sometimes an easement itself can be the vehicle for resolving the controversy, particularly in adverse possession cases. This post concerns a change in the law of easements, effected by the Supreme Judicial Court in 2004, which has created new flexibility for property owners in regulating rights of way and defending against easement claims over their properties.

Adverse Possession at the Water's Edge

What is fascinating, if not maddening, about the practice of law is that just when you think you've come across every iteration of facts that can be applied to a legal doctrine or precedent, you run into a scenario that tests-or at least puts a new twist on-a seemingly foregone conclusion.

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