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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Hot Off The Presses – Eaton v. Fannie Mae

Posted in Foreclosure, Miscellaneous, Title
Here is the Supreme Judicial Court’s decision in Eaton v. Fannie Mae, released moments ago.  It appears to require a foreclosing mortgagee to either have physical possession of the underlying promissory note or be acting as the authorized agent of the noteholder.  Crucially for real estate practitioners, the decision applies only prospectively.  More to follow shortly.… Continue Reading

Breaking: Mass. AG Approves Brookline’s Controversial “Neighborhood Conservation District” Bylaw

Posted in Miscellaneous, Zoning
In a decision (pdf) issued yesterday, the Massachusetts Attorney General’s Office has approved an expansive and unprecedented “Neighborhood Conservation District” bylaw (actually two related bylaws) adopted by the Town of Brookline at a November, 2011 Special Town Meeting.  For a discussion of the background to this controversy, see Johanna Schneider’s prior post here.  Johanna will follow up shortly with her analysis of this important decision,… Continue Reading

Breaking: The Massachusetts Permit Extension Act, Squared

Posted in Legislation, Miscellaneous, Policy
On Wednesday, the Massachusetts House voted to pass an economic development bill, An Act Relative to Infrastructure Investment, Enhanced Competitiveness and Economic Growth in the Commonwealth.  This bill contains provisions regarding the extension of the Brownfields Tax Credit and the creation of the Local Infrastructure Development Program.  The bill also would extend the 2010 Permit Extension Act (“PEA²”).  The… Continue Reading

SJC Remands Important Dover Amendment Case

Posted in Miscellaneous, Zoning
The Supreme Judicial Court (SJC) today issued a decision in Regis College v. Town of Weston (pdf), a case that (someday) will add to the existing body of Massachusetts law under the so-called Dover Amendment – the provision in the state’s Zoning Act that exempts qualifying educational and religious uses from most local zoning regulations. In 2005, Regis College, located in Weston, Massachusetts, proposed “Regis East,” an eight-building, 766,000 square-foot residential… Continue Reading

Conservation Law Foundation to the Rescue?

Posted in Environmental, Miscellaneous
Help is on the way for beleaguered environmental enforcement agencies that have experienced severe budget cuts over the past few years.  As reported here, the budgetary cuts at MassDEP have been especially deep.  The Conservation Law Foundation (CLF) has stepped into the breach by suing businesses that CLF alleges are causing releases of pollution into the waters of the Commonwealth. … Continue Reading

Land Court Rules Are Now Available In E-Book Format, Free

Posted in Miscellaneous
Good news for Massachusetts real estate lawyers who use a Kindle, Nook or other e-reader: the Massachusetts Trial Court Libraries has announced the availability – at no charge – of an e-book containing the Land Court’s Rules, Standing Orders, Manual of Instructions for the Survey of Lands and the Preparation of Plans, and Guidelines on Registered Land.  This handy resource can be downloaded here.… Continue Reading

More Mortgage Musings from Federal Court

Posted in Foreclosure, Miscellaneous
A couple of interesting foreclosure-related orders from the U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts, as reported in this week’s Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly (subscription required). In Morse v. Residential Credit Solutions, Inc., Judge Rya W. Zobel denied the plaintiff’s motion to remand the case to the Massachusetts Land Court.  Judge Zobel ruled that, although the plaintiff’s complaint sought only… Continue Reading

Gordie Orloff to Speak at Annual Real Estate Conference

Posted in Miscellaneous
On March 21, 2012, my colleague and fellow Massachusetts Land Use Monitor author Gordie Orloff will be one of the featured speakers at the 14th Annual Real Estate Law Conference sponsored by Massachusetts Continuing Legal Education (MCLE).  Gordie will be one of three speakers on a panel addressing “Recent Developments in Real Estate Law.”  Other panels will include “Lease Issues in… Continue Reading

The SJC’s Southbridge Standing Case, Take Two

Posted in Miscellaneous, Solid Waste, Standing, Zoning
On February 22, 2012, the Supreme Judicial Court (SJC) re-issued its decision in Board of Health of Sturbridge v. Board of Health of Southbridge (pdf).  The appellants had mailed their notice of appeal to the lower court on the last day for appeal, but it arrived and was docketed four days later.  The SJC initially released its decision in January, but withdrew it two… Continue Reading

Appeals Court Affirms Ruling That Lost Note Invalidates Mortgage

Posted in Miscellaneous, Title
In its decision issued this morning in JPMorgan Chase & Co. v. Casarano (pdf), the Appeals Court affirmed a Land Court ruling that, because the promissory note secured by a certain second mortgage can’t be found, that mortgage is unenforceable and must be deemed discharged.  The defendant second mortgage holder argued that enough of the terms of the missing note could be… Continue Reading

SJC Rules That Trust Beneficiary Can’t Claim Protection Under Pre-2011 Homestead Statute

Posted in Legislation, Miscellaneous, Title
In this morning’s decision in Boyle v. Weiss (pdf), the Supreme Judicial Court (SJC) answered an important question certified to it by the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the District of Massachusetts:  whether the beneficiary of a trust that holds title to residential property, where the beneficiary herself lives on the property (in this case, as a tenant of the trust), is entitled to protection under Massachusetts’… Continue Reading

When The Judge Says You’re Building At Risk, You Should Listen

Posted in Miscellaneous, Nonconforming Use, Zoning
Wayne Johnson’s epic battle to save his house from the wrecking ball appears to have come to an end, after 16 years of litigation involving four different Land Court Judges.  In his November, 2011 decision in Schey v. Johnson (pdf), Judge Keith Long ordered the demolition of Johnson’s waterfront residence in Marblehead.  To ensure compliance, Judge Long ordered Johnson to enter… Continue Reading

MassDEP to Hold Public Sessions on Regulatory Reform

Posted in Environmental, Miscellaneous, Policy
To take place for the next two weeks, MassDEP has scheduled Topic-Specific Discussions on its Regulatory Reform Initiatives (based on that title, I assume they really, really want the discussions to remain on topic).  The schedule is as follows:   MCP Standards – Friday, February 3rd at 10 AM (to address EPA changes in Integrated Risk Information Systems and… Continue Reading

Certiorari Appeal Timeline Is A Trap For The Unwary

Posted in Miscellaneous, Wetlands
In an “unpublished” decision in the case of Carney v. Town of Framingham (pdf) (further appellate review denied), a panel of the Appeals Court ruled that the statutory 60-day period for filing a certiorari appeal starts on the date the administrative agency takes its “last administrative action” – in this case a vote – not when the agency later reduces its decision to writing. M.G.L. c. 249,… Continue Reading

Appeals Court Clarifies Powers of Association Trustees

Posted in Condominiums, Miscellaneous, Restrictive Covenants
Association trustees are batting .500 in two recent and colorful Appeals Court decisions.  Trustees of a homeowner’s association got on base in Rawan v. Massad (pdf), in which the defendants, Mr. and Mrs. Massad, decided to help their son and others in the community “play ball” by creating a regulation baseball diamond on their property.  The town had only one other ballfield, and the… Continue Reading

DEP Vapor Intrusion Policy Still Causing Pain and Uncertainty

Posted in Environmental, Miscellaneous, Policy
Since changing its approach to vapor intrusion two years ago, the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) has yet to finalize its vapor intrusion policy.  As reported here, based on new studies, DEP is concerned that vapor from chemicals in groundwater – which can rise through soils and make its way into buildings – is more harmful than previously thought.  Sites… Continue Reading

Don’t Forget To Record The Mortgage!

Posted in Miscellaneous, Title
In Solans v. McMenimen (pdf), the Appeals Court reversed a lower court decision and ruled that an attachment against a person’s “right, title and interest” in real estate attaches all property then owned by that person, including property owned under an unrecorded deed.  More significantly, the court ruled that such an attachment takes priority over a prior, unrecorded mortgage. In this case, the… Continue Reading

Magic Johnson Points NorthPoint Development In Red’s Direction

Posted in Boston Development, Miscellaneous
It’s good to see the long-stalled NorthPoint development getting some traction again.  New investors, backed by basketball great Magic Johnson, plan to initiate the first phase of the $2 billion project next summer.  Phase I is planned to include 350 apartments, and at full build-out NorthPoint will consist of 22 buildings containing more housing and 2 million square feet of office… Continue Reading

Breaking News: Governor Patrick Nominates Robert B. Foster to Land Court Bench

Posted in Miscellaneous
We’ve just learned – and are thrilled to announce – that Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick today nominated our long-time Rackemann colleague and Massachusetts Land Use Monitor author Bob Foster as the next Associate Justice of the Massachusetts Land Court!  Congratulations to Bob on this distinct and well-deserved honor, and congratulations to Governor Patrick on a stellar nomination.  The Governor’s… Continue Reading

If It Looks Like Zoning, It’s Probably Zoning

Posted in Miscellaneous, Nonconforming Use, Zoning
Believing that excessive off-street parking has a negative impact on the character of residential neighborhoods, the Town of Barnstable adopted a general bylaw that limits the number of vehicles that can be parked overnight in residential districts.  A disgruntled resident filed suit, alleging that the town was attempting to impose a zoning regulation without complying with the procedures in M.G. L. c.… Continue Reading

Boston’s Ultra-Green Residential Design Exhibition Continues

Posted in Environmental, Miscellaneous, Zoning
The results of Boston’s E+ Green Building Demonstration Program will be on display through September 25 at the Boston Architectural College.  The E+ program’s goal is to promote the next generation of ultra-efficient green buildings.  The exhibition features proposals generated by 11 teams of architects, builders, and developers detailing the design and construction of high-performance, green urban homes, and… Continue Reading

ALI-ABA Land Use Institute Meeting in Boston August 17-19

Posted in Legislation, Miscellaneous, Zoning
I’ll be speaking at the meeting of the ALI-ABA Land Use Institute on August 17-19.  The meeting takes place at the Massachusetts Continuing Legal Education (MCLE) Conference Center at 10 Winter Place in Boston.  Topics include:  an update on planning and land use decisions, where I’ll be discussing condition uses and nonconforming uses; and federal laws and regulations affecting… Continue Reading