Massachusetts Land Use Monitor

Massachusetts Land Use Monitor

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

Tag Archives: special permit

The Great Salisbury Billboard Race

Posted in Police Power, Special Permits, Zoning
A Massachusetts regulation stating that no two digital billboards may be erected within 1,000 feet of one another set up a race between competing billboard companies that owned abutting land. Although the final approval for a billboard must come from the Commonwealth’s Department of Transportation Office of Outdoor Advertising (OOA), an applicant must first receive… Continue Reading

Appeals Court Panel Refuses To Narrow Declaratory Judgment Remedy For Zoning Disputes

Posted in Special Permits, Zoning
In a recent “unpublished” decision in Cohen v. City of Somerville (pdf), an Appeals Court panel confirmed that M.G.L. c. 240, § 14A – which allows a landowner to obtain a judicial declaration of the extent to which a zoning regulation applies to a proposed use of land – remains available even after the landowner has “engaged the administrative process” by applying for and being denied… Continue Reading

Appeals Court Fixes One Anomaly In The Tricky Law Of Nonconforming Structures

Posted in Nonconforming Use, Variances, Zoning
In a previous post we discussed Gale v. Zoning Board of Appeals of Gloucester (pdf) and the “difficult and infelicitous” language of the first two sentences of M.G.L. c. 40A, § 6 governing nonconforming uses and structures.  In Gale, the Appeals Court upheld the grant of a special permit authorizing the reconstruction of a single-family house that increased… Continue Reading

Under The Hood Of The Land Use Reform Bill, Part 1: Special Permits

Posted in Legislation, Special Permits, Zoning
Today we begin our detailed examination of the far-reaching land use reform bill pending before the Legislature.  The title of this bill is “An Act Promoting the Planning and Development of Sustainable Communities”; it’s also known as House Bill H.1859.  I’ll refer to it as the “Act.”  The Act is currently pending before the Joint Committee on Municipalities and Regional Government.  As… Continue Reading

Co-Drafter Of Colossal Land Use Reform Bill Touts Its Benefits

Posted in Legislation, Policy, Special Permits, Subdivision Control, Zoning
Jeffrey R. Lacy, AICP, is a Regional Planner with the Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation’s Division of Water Supply Protection.  More importantly for present purposes, Jeff is also a co-drafter of House Bill No. 1859 (pdf), “An Act Promoting the Planning and Development of Sustainable Communities,” which is presently before the Joint Committee on Municipalities and… Continue Reading

Pilgrim Nuclear Power Plant: Local Zoning Board Causes A Reaction

Posted in Environmental, Renewable Energy, Special Permits, Zoning
Proponents of a smaller federal government probably didn’t have this in mind – a local zoning board deciding the fate of a nuclear power plant.  That’s what just happened in Plymouth, where the Zoning Board of Appeals last week decided, in an appeal filed by 18 residents, to uphold a building inspector’s decision that the Pilgrim Nuclear Power… Continue Reading

Appeals Court Panel Affirms Ruling That City Must Issue Special Permit

Posted in Special Permits
In a recent “unpublished decision” in A.L. Prime Energy Consultant, Inc. v. City Council of Woburn (pdf), a panel of the Appeals Court affirmed a Land Court ruling that the Woburn City Council’s denial of the plaintiff’s application for a special permit to build a gas station and convenience store was “unreasonable, whimsical, capricious or arbitrary.”  In denying the permit, the council had cited potential traffic tie-ups and… Continue Reading

Appeals Court Declines Invitation To Destroy Land Use Law As We Know It

Posted in Policy, Restrictive Covenants, Zoning
The Appeals Court had a momentous decision to make in Killorin v. Board of Appeals of Andover – a decision that would mark the difference between entropy and order.  Imagine a world in which every condition in every special permit, variance, subdivision approval, site plan approval, wetlands permit, and other discretionary approval affecting the use of real… Continue Reading

State OK’s Springfield Biomass Plant

Posted in Environmental, Policy, Renewable Energy
As reported here, the Massachusetts Department of Energy Resources recently proposed new rules (pdf) regulating large wood-burning power plants.  These rules call for stringent efficiency standards, notably the encouragement of co-generation (the productive use of waste heat).  The impetus for the new rules was a recent study that challenged the widely-held assumption that the cultivation of forests for fuel… Continue Reading

Impaired Ocean View Not Enough to Confer Standing

Posted in Standing, Zoning
The Supreme Judicial Court (SJC) has made another contribution to the ever-evolving law of zoning standing.  In Kenner v. Zoning Board of Appeals of Chatham (pdf), the court considered the plaintiffs’ challenge to a special permit that the defendant zoning board granted to the plaintiffs’ neighbors in South Chatham.  The permit authorized the neighbors to demolish, rebuild and expand their house. … Continue Reading