Phillips & Angley

Zoning Archives


Massachusetts cities and towns use zoning districts (residential, commercial, industrial, etc.) to set forth the type of land use(s) and structures permissible within a given geographical area. Chapter 40A, § 4, requires that these "districts shall be uniform within the district for each class or kind of structures or uses permitted."


There has already been much recent zoning buzz about the impending medical marijuana dispensaries, and a significant SJC ruling (ZBA of Lunenburg v. Housing Appeals Committee) in the Chapter 40B affordable housing front, so let's take a look at what else is happening in the realm of zoning and planning around Massachusetts during the first week or so into the New Year.

Permit Session: Land Court vs. Housing Court Jurisdiction

An interesting case-much less frustrating one for the plaintiff-developer involved-came out of the Appeals Court at the very end of 2012. In Buccaneer Dev., Inc. v. Zoning Bd. of Appeals of Lenox, Docket No. 11-P-1159 (Mass. App. Ct. Dec. 28, 2012), the sole issue before the court was whether the Housing Court had jurisdiction to decide a transferred case that was initially filed in the Land Court permit session

Intro to Variances II: Finding of Substantial Hardship

As discussed in an earlier post (Intro to Variances I), there are a few necessary findings before a zoning board can grant a variance. Last time we talked about soil conditions, shape or topography that support the need for a variance. This post explores the necessity of a "substantial hardship" that will result if literal enforcement of the zoning code is required.

Are Zoning Decisions Final?

When a court hands down a decision and neither party appeals, the decision becomes final and binding upon the parties. Under such circumstances, the parties will be barred from re-litigating the issues finally resolved by the prior decision. In the legal community the finality of such decisions is referred to as res judicata, "the thing adjudicated."

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