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Gordon Orloff is a Boston-based lawyer focusing on business, real estate and probate litigation in the trial and appellate courts of Massachusetts.  Gordon represents clients in contract disputes as well as in trade secret and copyright cases, title, easement and zoning and boundary disputes.

Gordon is aware that some matters are best resolved outside of the courtroom and he regularly represents clients in alternative dispute resolution. He is a trained mediator and has served as a case conciliator at the Boston Municipal Court.

Gordon has presented on various real estate topics for Massachusetts Continuing Legal Education and other continuing legal education programs and is a member of Real Estate Bar Association’s Litigation Committee.  He also is a regular contributor to the blog, Massachusetts Land Use Monitor, which reports on new developments in real estate and land-use law.

COVID-19 Creates New Barriers for Developers | National Real ...

The press has reported on many government actions to help individuals and small businesses to weather the storm caused by the coronavirus pandemic. Massachusetts has taken additional steps directed at providing clarity for developers in these difficult times.

State Permit Applications:

Governor Baker has issued COVID-19, Order No. 17, which affects state permit applications

When the Conservation Commission refused to permit the construction of a house on her residential lot in a Falmouth subdivision, Janice Smyth decided to take action and sought damages for a regulatory taking of her land under the U.S. Constitution and the Massachusetts Declaration of Rights.  She was successful initially, recovering damages of $640,000.  But, in Smyth v. Conservation Commission of Falmouth, the Appeals Court reversed the lower court’s decision.

Continue Reading No Damages to Owner Whose Lot Is Unbuildable Due to Wetlands Regulations

In a satisfying win for Rackemann, the Appeals Court today upheld a Land Court decision that inland lot owners hold no easement rights over our clients’ waterfront property.

Loiselle v. Hickey concerns a large subdivision in Dennis with a number of ways leading to Cape Cod Bay.  An earlier case between many of the same parties established that the inland lot owners had easement rights in all of those ways.  In Loiselle, many of the same the inland lot owners argued that they also had the right to use the private beach between those ways for recreational purposes.

The Appeals Court rejected that claim.  While the decision does not break new legal ground, it does serve as a helpful review of the basic legal principles governing waterfront land.


Continue Reading More Beach Rights Litigation

Unable to leave well enough alone, the Supreme Judicial Court used a series of wooden puns in deciding not to change the longstanding rule that a landowner cannot hold a neighbor responsible for damage caused by that neighbor’s healthy tree.  Shiel v. Rowell addressed Shiel’s nuisance and trespass claims that algae on her roof was caused by the Rowells’ overhanging tree.

Continue Reading The Trouble With Trees

Massachusetts is unusual in that an owner of waterfront property typically holds title to the low water mark.  However, the area between the low and the high water marks normally remains subject to the rights of the public to fish, fowl (hunt birds) and navigate.

Continue Reading Private Parties Cannot Enforce Public Rights to Access Tidelands

Section 7 of Chapter 40A contains a statute of limitations for actions by individuals and municipalities to compel the removal, alteration, or relocation of any structure due to a zoning violation.  In Bruno v. Zoning Board of Appeals of Tisbury, the Appeals Court considered when the statute of limitations commences based on a zoning violation arising from an ANR (Approval Not Required) subdivision of land.

The Goethals owned a large lot with a single family home and guesthouse.  In 2001, the local planning board endorsed the Goethals’ plan to subdivide that lot into two parcels and, for a time, the Goethals retained both Lots.   Their guesthouse was on Lot 1 and a single family home was on Lot 2.  Lot 1 is about 12,000 square feet, whereas zoning requires a minimum lot size of 25,000 square feet for a single family home.


Continue Reading When Is It Too Late to Force a Neighbor to Cure a Zoning Violation?