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Zoning Archives

Appeals Under M.G.L. c. 40A, § 17: De Novo Review and Deference to Boards

Understanding the judicial standard of review is important for litigants in zoning appeals filed under M.G.L. c. 40A, § 17, including the denial or approval of special permits and variances, and, in some cases, site plan review. Such appeals also include zoning board decisions related to enforcement actions via the zoning enforcement officer (i.e. building inspector).

Intro to Variances I: Soil Conditions, Shape & Topography

In some instances, obtaining a variance is a lawful means to deviate from strict compliance with current zoning requirements. Although zoning boards usually grant them sparingly, an approved variance can be a useful tool for landowners seeking to, inter alia, site, construct, alter or enlarge a structure on their property that would otherwise violate some aspect of the zoning code.

Appeals Court Declines To Order The Tear Down Of A South Boston Home Despite Overturning Variances and Remands To Superior Court For Further Proceedings

After the recent publicity surrounding a court-ordered removal of a million-plus dollar home in Marblehead (for more on that story, click over to The Massachusetts Real Estate Blog), it would be easy to assume that courts would have no problem ordering the removal of a much smaller residence, especially one that was later determined to fall short of the requirements needed for the variances that authorized the home's construction in the first instance. But on March 7, 2012, despite the fact that it had overturned five variances that allowed such construction, the Massachusetts Appeals Court declined to order such relief as part of its remand.

Phased Development: Considerations for Developers

Phased development often makes better business sense for certain kinds of residential and commercial properties. There are several planning and practical considerations that developers should make when it comes to phased projects.

Land Court Permit Session: A Useful Tool for Appeals of Larger Development Projects

In 2006, the Massachusetts Legislature created the "Permit Session" of the Land Court to allow a more expedited appeal process for development projects that meet certain build-out thresholds. So long as the underlying project involves either twenty-five (25) or more dwelling units, or the construction or alteration of 25,000 square feet or more of gross floor area (including commercial and industrial projects), or both, then the appeal can be heard by the Permit Session of the Land Court.

Shirley Wayside Ltd. P'ship v. Bd. of Appeals of Shirley: Non-Conforming Mobile Home Park Allowed to Expand Under Special Permit

In another zoning case that supports the expansion of a pre-existing, nonconforming use, the SJC issued its decision in Shirley Wayside Ltd. P'ship v. Bd. of Appeals of Shirley, SJC-10869 (Feb. 7, 2012), an action that was commenced in the Land Court in late 2005.

Expanding, Altering and Re-Constructing Pre-Existing Nonconforming One- and Two-Family Residences

Considering the age of many single and two-family homes within the Commonwealth, and the relative time period when zoning ordinances and by-laws came into effect across municipalities, it is common to find that many homes often do not comply with current local zoning requirements.

Nuts & Bolts: The Site Plan Review Process

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.

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