Massachusetts Land Use Monitor

Massachusetts Land Use Monitor

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

Category Archives: Miscellaneous

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The Trouble With Trees

Posted in Miscellaneous, Uncategorized
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… Continue Reading

Breaking: SJC Rules That Real Estate Salespersons Are Not Covered By Independent Contractor Statute

Posted in Legislation, Miscellaneous
This morning the Supreme Judicial Court (SJC) released its decision in the closely-watched case of Monell v. Boston Pads, LLC.  The main issue on appeal – one of critical importance to the real estate brokerage industry – was whether the state’s 2004 independent contractor statute, M.G.L. c. 149, § 148B (part of the Wage Act), applies to real estate salespersons… Continue Reading

Period Of Public Ownership Doesn’t Stop Adverse Possession Clock

Posted in Miscellaneous, Title
The Appeals Court’s recent decision in 1148 Daviol Street LLC v. Mechanic’s Mill One LLC will be of interest to adverse possession buffs. The issue on appeal was whether the plaintiff’s adverse possession claim started running during a 14-year period when the defendant’s property was owned by the City of Fall River.  The defendant argued that the claim could not have commenced during… Continue Reading

Breaking: SJC Rules That Candidate Can’t Be Barred From Soliciting Signatures At Private, Stand-Alone Supermarket

Posted in Landlord-Tenant, Miscellaneous, Policy
In a closely-watched case affecting hundreds of stores and other commercial establishments across Massachusetts, the Supreme Judicial Court (SJC) today ruled that Article 9 of the Massachusetts Declaration of Rights – which protects the right of equal access to ballots – trumps the right of private property owners to bar individuals from soliciting signatures in support of a candidate’s nomination to public office.  Here is a full… Continue Reading

Recorded Deed With Phony Acknowledgement Is Ineffective

Posted in Miscellaneous, Title
In a case of first impression, the Appeals Court ruled last week in Allen v. Allen that a recorded deed with an acknowledgement falsely stating that the grantor had personally appeared before the notary public was unenforceable against a family member with a competing, subsequently recorded deed.  Allen pitted the plaintiff sister, Deborah, against her defendant brother, Harold Jr.  In July, 2001, the siblings’… Continue Reading

Known Monuments Decide Boundary Dispute

Posted in Miscellaneous, Title
In its recent decision in Bernier v. Fredette, the Appeals Court affirmed a Land Court ruling concerning the importance of monuments in deed descriptions.  In real estate parlance, a monument is a fixed object used by surveyors to establish land boundaries.  While it doesn’t break new ground, this decision provides a good illustration of the… Continue Reading

SJC Reverses Eminent Domain Judgment For Impacts From Sagamore Bridge “Flyover”

Posted in Eminent Domain, Miscellaneous
In its decision issued last week in Sorenti Bros., Inc. v. Commonwealth, the Supreme Judicial Court (SJC) ruled that a gas station owner is not entitled to eminent domain damages due to the elimination of the rotary at the foot of the Sagamore Bridge in Bourne.  The owner claimed that the so-called “flyover” project impaired its access… Continue Reading

SJC Decides A Forest Is Tax-Exempt

Posted in Miscellaneous, Taxation
In a decision issued last week, the Supreme Judicial Court (SJC) ruled that New England Forestry Foundation, Inc. (NEFF) is a qualifying charitable organization whose forest land is exempt from property taxes under M.G.L. c. 59, § 5, clause third.  In so ruling, the SJC reversed a contrary decision of the state Appellate Tax Board (ATB). NEFF owns a 120-acre… Continue Reading

Recent Rulings on More Foreclosure Foibles

Posted in Foreclosure, Miscellaneous, Title
In the last few weeks the Supreme Judicial Court (SJC) decided two more cases dealing with the effects of botched foreclosure sales.  The more important decision is U.S. Bank National Association v. Schumacher (pdf).  Schumacher arises from M.G.L. c. 244, §35A, which the Legislature enacted in 2007 in response to the foreclosure crisis.  This statute requires foreclosing banks to notify… Continue Reading

Beverly Port Marina and the Fates of Permitting

Posted in Environmental, Miscellaneous, Waterfront Property
If you think land use is simple, read Beverly Port Marina, Inc. v. Department of Environmental Protection — not just the recent Appeals Court decision but the underlying agency decision.  What’s so difficult?  Begin with a smorgasbord of government laws and programs:  Chapter 91, the Coastal Zone Management Plan, procurement law, the urban self-help program, Article… Continue Reading

Registered, Schmegistered: Easements On Registered Land Can Be Relocated

Posted in Easements, Miscellaneous, Registered Land
Earlier this month the Supreme Judicial Court (SJC) issued an important decision in the case of Martin v. Simmons Properties, LLC.  Mr. Martin holds an easement over the land of the defendant, Simmons.  Simmons had blocked part of Martin’s easement. Land in Massachusetts can be registered or unregistered.  Registered land has some special protections not afforded to unregistered land… Continue Reading

Motive For Torching Of Spooner Road House Still A Mystery

Posted in Miscellaneous, Nonconforming Use, Zoning
For three years we’ve been following the saga of 81 Spooner Road, the Brookline property at the center of a contentious zoning dispute and, more recently, an arson investigation.  See our original post here, and our follow-ups here, here and here.  Now, a trio of Northeastern University journalism students under the supervision of their professor – former Boston Globe Spotlight Team editor… Continue Reading

SJC Decision May Result In Haircut For Broker Who Misrepresented Zoning to Salon Owner

Posted in Miscellaneous, Purchase and Sale Agreement, Zoning
The Supreme Judicial Court (SJC) yesterday issued its decision in the closely-watched case of DeWolfe v. Hingham Centre, Ltd.  The SJC has concluded that a broker can be liable for a written misrepresentation regarding zoning, despite language in a commonly-used form purchase and sale agreement that some thought protected the broker from such liability.  We discussed the Appeals Court’s 2011 decision… Continue Reading

Spring Training for Land Use Lawyers

Posted in Miscellaneous
Should the Red Sox start Jackie Bradley, Jr. in left?  I don’t know.  But I do know that the Boston Bar Association’s Land Use and Development Committee, co-chaired by my colleague and fellow MLUM contributor Johanna Schneider, is co-sponsoring two lunch programs of interest to land use lawyers.  The first program, scheduled for April Fool’s Day… Continue Reading

Give Your Sweetheart The Gift Of Knowledge, Courtesy Of The BBA’s Land Use & Development Committee

Posted in Miscellaneous, Standing, Zoning
On Valentine’s Day, the Boston Bar Association’s Land Use & Development Committee, co-chaired by my Rackemann colleague and fellow blogger Johanna Schneider, will host a lunch meeting to discuss recent developments in the law of standing.  The meeting will feature guest speakers Adam Cederbaum of the City of Boston’s Office of Corporation Counsel and noted land use attorney Dan… Continue Reading

Breaking: NREIS Going Out Of Business

Posted in Miscellaneous, Title
Looks like its last closing will be its own.  We’ve just learned that National Real Estate Information Services, Inc. (NREIS), a Pennsylvania company that once provided “real estate settlement services” (i.e. real estate closings with little or no attorney involvement) is closing its doors.  NREIS is the defendant in a long-running lawsuit brought by the Real Estate Bar Association of… Continue Reading

Be A Commercial Real Estate Guru

Posted in Environmental, Miscellaneous, Subdivision Control, Zoning
On Tuesday, October 30, 2012, my colleagues and follow MLUM authors Gareth Orsmond and Michael Parker will be presiding over the next session of MCLE’s five-week “BasicsPlus” series on Commercial Real Estate.  Gareth and Michael will be covering zoning, subdivision control, and environmental site assessments.  The session runs from 8:30 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. and takes place… Continue Reading

Massachusetts Environmental Law In A Nutshell

Posted in Environmental, Miscellaneous
My colleague and fellow MLUM author Michael Parker will be one of the featured panelists at a Massachusetts Continuing Legal Education (MCLE) seminar next Wednesday, October 24, 2012.  The seminar is entitled Environmental Law: MCLE BasicsPlus, and will provide an “essential overview for environmental lawyers and non-specialists.”  Michael’s topic will be effective advocacy in MassDEP administrative appeals.  The seminar runs from 9:00… Continue Reading

Some Interesting Stats From Our Appellate Courts

Posted in Miscellaneous
The Supreme Judicial Court (SJC) recently released its FY 2011 “Annual Report on the State of the Massachusetts Court System,” a copy of which is here (pdf).  The report is chock full of information – some of it pretty depressing – about the current condition of our court system, which remains woefully underfunded.  This lack of funding has resulted in a loss of over 1,000 trial court… Continue Reading

Rocket Science, Explained

Posted in Miscellaneous, Registered Land
My colleague and fellow MLUM contributor Johanna Schneider will be one of the panelists at a CLE program sponsored by the Boston Bar Association entitled “Understanding the Land Court:  The Ins and Outs of Litigating and Dealing with the Registered Land System.  Also on the panel is my former Rackemann colleague, Land Court Justice Robert B. Foster.  The program is happening on Tuesday, October… Continue Reading

Make It A Double: “Jobs Bill” Extends Permit Extension Act

Posted in Legislation, Miscellaneous, Policy
A bill entitled “An act relative to infrastructure investment, enhanced competitiveness & economic growth” – now known as the “Jobs Bill” – was signed into law yesterday by Governor Deval Patrick.  The Jobs Bill contains provisions enhancing local infrastructure initiatives and streamlining the process for creating local District Improvement Financing Districts.  See our post on an… Continue Reading

Breaking: Governor Signs Economic Development Bill, Doubles Permit Extensions

Posted in Legislation, Miscellaneous
Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick has signed a long-simmering economic development bill that includes a doubling – up to four years – of the extensions granted by the 2010 Permit Extension Act, and other benefits for property owners and developers.  More details and a copy of the final version of the bill to follow here shortly.… Continue Reading

Breaking: SJC Reverses Appeals Court, Upholds Town’s Sewer Connection Charges

Posted in Miscellaneous
In a decision (pdf) released this morning, the Supreme Judicial Court (SJC) has reversed an Appeals Court decision that struck down the Town of Saugus’s sewer connection charges as an illegal tax.  The SJC concluded that, because the charges in question are “reasonably designed to compensate [the town] for anticipated expenses” with respect to the town’s sewer system, they aren’t an… Continue Reading