Public Law


Developers No Longer Need to Undertake Any Active Construction to Save a Variance from Lapsing.

by Nina L. Pickering-Cook, Dana E. Wooten

Image by Malachi Witt from Pixabay Beginning construction, or even simply breaking ground, is no longer necessary to exercise rights under a use variance.  Last week, the Appeals Court clarified what qualifies as an “exercise” of a use variance, finding that the developer had “exercised”… READ MORE

What Cities and Towns Need to Know About the New Cannabis Regulations

by Austin P. Anderson, Nina L. Pickering-Cook

Image by Peggy und Marco Lachmann-Anke from Pixabay The Cannabis Control Commission is coming out with new regulations and it appears that there are two significant potential changes of which municipalities should be aware. Home delivery will become available in some places. If municipality city… READ MORE

Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court Held McLean Hospital Program Can Operate in Residential Zoning District because it is Primarily Educational

by Arthur P. Kreiger, Annie E. Lee

Image by PublicDomainPictures from Pixabay The Supreme Judicial Court has held that a McLean Hospital program focused on developing the emotional and social skills of adolescents who exhibit extreme emotional dysregulation may, under the Dover Amendment, be located in a residential zoning district.  The Court… READ MORE

Mina S. Makarious and Paul Kominers Legal Analysis Featured in the 2019 Spring Boston Bar Journal

by Mina S. Makarious

Mina S. Makarious and Paul Kominers co-authored, “Spaulding v. Town of Natick School Committee: Allowing Free Speech while Accomplishing Municipal Work”, for the 2019 spring edition of the Boston Bar Journal. based on the Spaulding v. Town of Natick School Committee, MICV2018-01115 (Nov. 21, 2018) (Kirpalani, J.) decision.   Read it here!… READ MORE

New State Law Allows Local Regulation of Short-Term Rentals

by Anderson & Kreiger

Just before 2018 ended, Governor Baker signed An Act Regulating and Insuring Short-Term Rentals into law.  The Act capped off years of public debate, Beacon Hill wrangling, and local regulation of short-term rentals such as those arranged through Airbnb and VRBO.  The… READ MORE

The Land Court Draws a Fine Line on “Educational Use” under the Dover Amendment

by Arthur P. Kreiger

image credit: DariuszSankowski If a proposed activity is more therapeutic than educational, it not protected by the Dover Amendment and therefore may not be conducted in a zoning district where it is not permitted under the zoning ordinance or bylaw, under a recent Land Court decision.  The McLean… READ MORE

Supreme Judicial Court Reaffirms Massachusetts Rule: No Liability for Damages from Healthy Trees

by Arthur P. Kreiger

image credit: Couleur The Supreme Judicial Court recently reaffirmed that a landowner whose property is damaged by a neighbor’s healthy tree cannot hold the neighbor responsible for damages. Shiel v. Rowell, SJC-12432 (July 16, 2018). The Rowells’ oak tree overhung and caused algae buildup on Shiel’s roof. Shiel sued for… READ MORE

FAA Will Continue to Stay Out of the Realm of Regulating UAS Privacy Issues for Now

by Mina S. Makarious

In Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC) v. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA),–F.3d—(June 19, 2018), the DC Circuit left unaddressed the question of whether the FAA’s rules governing drone use must address privacy concerns by dismissing the suit on standing grounds. EPIC, a privacy advocacy group, brought the suit against… READ MORE

SJC Reaffirms that Chapter 40B does not Supersede Property Rights

by David B. Lyons

image credit: Nick Roberts General Laws Chapter 40B was enacted nearly 50 years ago to overcome local obstacles to affordable housing.  A powerful tool against parochial requirements and regulations, it authorizes the municipal zoning board to issue a “comprehensive permit” overriding all local requirements or regulations for an affordable housing… READ MORE

Un-Neighborly Conduct: Adjacent Town Lacks Standing to Block Asphalt Plant

by David B. Lyons

Image Credit: rulenumberone2 In the latest battle in the ongoing dispute over a proposed asphalt plant in Westford abutting the Chelmsford town line, the Superior Court recently held that Chelmsford has no standing to appeal special permits issued by the Westford Zoning Board of Appeals.  The case is… READ MORE