Massachusetts Land Use Monitor

Massachusetts Land Use Monitor

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

Category Archives: Regulatory Takings

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

Posted in Eminent Domain, Environmental, Regulatory Takings, Wetlands, Zoning
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,… Continue Reading

Regulatory Taking, Anyone?

Posted in Environmental, Police Power, Regulatory Takings, Waterfront Property, Wetlands
  A Cape Cod jury, after a scant one-hour deliberation, decided in favor of a Falmouth landowner who claimed that the Falmouth Conservation Commission’s refusal to grant variances from the Town’s Wetlands Protection Bylaw deprived her of all beneficial use of her property. The jury in Smyth v. Falmouth Conservation Commission and the Town of… Continue Reading

Supreme Court’s Koontz Decision May Help Landowners Fighting Mitigation Payments

Posted in Environmental, Regulatory Takings, Wetlands
Yesterday the United States Supreme Court issued its long-awaited decision in Koontz v. St. Johns River Water Management District (pdf).  The court split 5-4 along the usual lines.  According to the dissent, this decision may have a significant impact on real estate developers and the boards and commissions that regulate them. The plaintiff, Koontz, wanted to develop 3.7 acres of his… 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

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