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.
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.
For developers, satisfying off-street parking requirements is just one part of the planning and design process for new construction or development. In essence, it is the developer that ultimately becomes responsible for ensuring that the demand for parking spaces is met.
We normally don't post news items from outside Massachusetts, but this ongoing saga is just too interesting that we had to share. Plus, considering it's summer, it just makes for good "beach" reading.
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.
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,
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.
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.
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.