Massachusetts Land Use Monitor

Massachusetts Land Use Monitor

Real-Time News & Commentary on Massachusetts Land Use & Real Estate Law

Category Archives: Legislation

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Stop! In the Name of HAMP: Bankruptcy Court Enjoins Foreclosure

Posted in Foreclosure, Legislation
The federal Home Affordable Modification Program (HAMP) provides a mechanism for struggling homeowners to modify mortgage loans with participating lenders.  HAMP’s effectiveness has been questioned, but it recently provided the legal basis for a preliminary injunction against a foreclosure.  In the bankruptcy proceeding In re Cruz (pdf), the debtor, Mr. Cruz, had applied with Wells Fargo Bank, N.A.… Continue Reading

“Too Little Too Late”: City’s Denial of Cell Tower Violates Telecommunications Act

Posted in Legislation, Zoning
Buried within the federal Telecommunications Act of 1996 (TCA) is a provision governing the zoning of wireless communications facilities – i.e., cell towers.  Section 704 of the TCA, now codified at 47 U.S.C. § 332(c)(7), states that except as otherwise provided, local zoning authority over cell towers is preserved.  It then places significant limits on that authority. … Continue Reading

DEP’s Transfer of Solid Waste Permitting Authority Premature

Posted in Environmental, Legislation, Solid Waste
In a recent entry we discussed how the Massachusetts legislature amended the Massachusetts solid waste statute, M.G.L. c. 111, Sec. 150A, to shift the responsibility for permitting small solid waste transfer stations (less than 50 tons of refuse per day) from the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) to local Boards of Health.  Not so fast .… Continue Reading

State Dumps Responsibility For Small Waste Transfer Stations On Municipalities

Posted in Environmental, Legislation, Policy, Solid Waste
The Massachusetts legislature recently amended the Massachusetts solid waste statute, M.G.L. c. 111, sec. 150A.  In a nutshell, these amendments shift responsibility for permitting transfer stations that accept less than 50 tons of refuse a day from the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) to local Boards of Health.  They also remove DEP’s authority to provide Boards of Health with site… Continue Reading

Voters Reject Ballot Question to Repeal Chapter 40B

Posted in Affordable Housing, Legislation
Massachusetts voters yesterday rejected Question 2, the ballot question that proposed to repeal the state’s affordable housing statute, known as Chapter 40B.  The final tally was 58% against repeal and 42% in favor, a pretty decisive outcome.  What’s interesting is the town-by-town results, shown here.  It makes sense that most of the cities voted against repeal. … Continue Reading

SJC to Hear Important “Unauthorized Practice of Law” Case

Posted in Legislation, Miscellaneous, Policy
On Tuesday, November 2, 2010, the Supreme Judicial Court (SJC) will hear oral argument in The Real Estate Bar Association of Massachusetts, Inc. (REBA) v. National Real Estate Information Services, Inc. (NREIS), an important case that’s being closely watched around the country. NREIS describes itself as a “multi-state real estate settlement services provider.”  NREIS “facilitates” real estate closings by hiring subcontractors — mostly non-attorneys… Continue Reading

Legislature Reduces Minimum Acreage for Agricultural Protection to Two Acres

Posted in Agricultural Use, Legislation, Zoning
The Massachusetts Zoning Enabling Act has long provided that local zoning ordinances and by-laws can’t prohibit, unreasonably regulate, or require a special permit for, agricultural uses on parcels of five acres or more.  The legislature recently reduced the minimum lot size to qualify for these special protections from five acres to two acres, as long as… Continue Reading

A Classic State/Local Battle Brewing: the Massachusetts Permit Extension Act

Posted in Legislation, Policy, Zoning
In the waning hours of the 2009-2010 legislative session, the Massachusetts legislature passed the Permit Extension Act (pdf) as part of An Act Relative to Economic Development Reorganization.  True to its name, the Permit Extension Act extends for two years most local and state permits and approvals that were issued or in existence between August 15, 2008 and… Continue Reading