When it comes to development permits, one of the most crucial considerations is to provide for lawful, adequate ingress and egress to existing adjacent streets.
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).
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.
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 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.
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.