Massachusetts Land Use Monitor

Massachusetts Land Use Monitor

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

Category Archives: Policy

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Appeals Court Sniffs Out an Illegal Tax

Posted in Miscellaneous, Policy, Taxation
In a decision that is reverberating across the state, the Appeals Court, in Denver Street LLC v. Town of Saugus (pdf), has affirmed a Superior Court ruling that the Town of Saugus’s sewer inflow and infiltration (I&I) “reduction contribution” is an illegal tax, rather than a permissible fee.  Since most cities and towns in Massachusetts impose similar charges, this decision will add to existing pressure on municipal… Continue Reading

Mighty Wind: Governor Trumpets Start of Federal Leasing Process for Wind Farms Off Massachusetts Coast

Posted in Environmental, Policy, Renewable Energy
Governor Deval Patrick’s administration has heralded the start of a leasing process for the development of up to 4,000 megawatts of wind energy capacity in federal waters off the Massachusetts coast.  That process began today with the Obama administration’s issuance of a “Request for Interest” seeking to gauge industry interest in developing wind farms in about 3,000 square miles of federal waters south of Nantucket and Martha’s… 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

Land Court Upholds Five-Acre Zoning

Posted in Policy, Regulatory Takings, Subdivision Control, Zoning
In O’Brien Homes, Inc. v. Lunenberg Planning Board (pdf), Land Court Judge Keith C. Long upheld a five-acre minimum lot size requirement that the Town of Lunenberg imposes on subdivisions of more than 25 acres.  The zoning bylaw at issue (Section 5.6) is designed to encourage developers to preserve open space in developments of more than 25 acres.  In return for… Continue Reading

Adverse Possession: It’s Not Just For First-Year Law Students

Posted in Foreclosure, Miscellaneous, Policy, Title
It turns out that the doctrine of adverse possession, long the bane of first-year law students who wondered what possible application a feudal property law rule could have in the 21st century, is rearing its head in the mortgage foreclosure crisis.  Note to readers:  the adverse possession period in Massachusetts is 20 years.… 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

Clean Energy for Dirty Land

Posted in Environmental, Policy, Renewable Energy
It’s estimated that by 2030, U.S. electricity demand will increase by approximately 30%.  Meeting this demand will require the construction of 320 new mid-size coal plants, or about 16 new plants permitted and built every year from now until 2030.  Between the capital outlays and the complex permitting and regulatory process required to get coal plants built, greater… Continue Reading

SJC on Regulatory Takings: That Word Does Not Mean What You Think It Means

Posted in Policy, Regulatory Takings, Wetlands
It is a truth universally acknowledged that property owners don’t like restrictions on how they may use their land.  It is a truth equally acknowledged, however, that state and local governments can enact laws and regulations — zoning bylaws, environmental rules, nuisance statutes — that limit what landowners can do with their land.  Just when a… 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