Zoning Disputes in Massachusetts: Three Success Stories
Zoning disputes typically arise when property owners have disagreements over whether someone is entitled to specific zoning relief, such as a variance. The law allows a party who is “aggrieved” by a zoning decision to appeal the matter in court. By doing so, the party requesting the zoning relief is required to prove to the court that they are entitled to it.
I’ve had the honor of representing businesses and homeowners with zoning disputes in Massachusetts. Here, I’ll discuss three success stories I have had with such matters. For privacy purposes, I have only discussed the general facts of each case.
Small Business v. Real Estate Developer
My client was a medium-sized commercial landlord in the Greater Boston area who was having an issue with a real estate developer. The developer was seeking zoning approval to pursue a large-sized development in the neighborhood where one of my client’s rental properties was located. My client was concerned that such a development could have long lasting implications to its rental property, including loss revenue.
For this zoning dispute, I challenged the validity of the special permits that this developer had obtained from the city’s planning board. I argue that the planning board failed to consider all of the required criteria for such relief, including the implications of its development on nearby housing providers.
After several months of litigation, my client and the developer reached a successful settlement. This settlement provided my client adequate compensation for some of the losses it anticipated suffering during the construction of this development.
Homeowner v. Real Estate Developer
In this case, a Boston homeowner retained me concerning a proposed development in the immediate vicinity of his home. My client, understandably, was concerned about a large condominium complex in the rear of his home.
After reviewing the case, I determined that many of the approved variances were problematic and on shaky ground. In the Suffolk Superior Court case I filed appealing this decision, I asked the Court to annul the City of Boston’s Zoning Board of Appeal decision on this matter.
Shortly after, a settlement was reached, which helped alleviate many of my client’s concerns about this project.
Homeowner v. Homeowner
Zoning disputes often occur between adjacent homeowners. In this case, a North Shore homeowner hired me in regards to a special permit that his neighbor obtained. My client was concerned about an addition that his neighbor wished to construct on her home, which my client believed lacked justification.
As with all zoning disputes, timing is critical. Massachusetts law only allows a claimant twenty days to file an appeal, and failure to do so will be grounds for dismissing the appeal.
As a solo attorney, one thing I pride myself on is having full control over my schedule and ability to take on cases that are time sensitive. Here, I was able to timely file this matter on short notice, which lead to a successful resolution for my client.
Zoning disputes are highly interesting cases . . . and complex. It is critical to how a solid understanding of this law to pursue any zoning appeal or legal challenge.
While each of the cases discussed above settled, zoning disputes can (and often do) go to trial. Therefore, it is critical to have an attorney with a solid background in litigation and trial advocacy.
If you need assistance with such a matter, contact me for a consultation.