Our Practice Areas

Land Use and Environmental LawPrint | PDF

For nearly 100 years, Mirick O’Connell has provided real estate advice to individuals, institutions and businesses in Central Massachusetts and throughout New England. Our Land Use and Environmental Law Group has the expertise needed to economically handle complex real estate matters to that protect our clients' real estate investments.

Land Use

Mirick O’Connell’s transactional real estate practice encompasses all real estate sectors and includes the representation of individuals, businesses, institutions and public entities in the acquisition, financing, disposition and management of real estate assets.  We also represent landlords and tenants in the negotiation and drafting of leases and subleases for office, retail, industrial, biomedical and R&D space.

Our attorneys assist clients in the planning and permitting of real estate projects, from single-family homes to manufacturing facilities.  We understand the political framework in which all real estate development projects exist and have the experience, contacts and judgment required to shepherd a project to fruition and profitability.  We also have extensive experience with the redevelopment of former manufacturing properties and the conversion of existing structures into residential and commercial condominiums.

Today, every real estate development project is subject to some degree of environmental scrutiny.  We have the expertise to navigate the world of overlapping and multi-jurisdictional environmental permitting requirements.  Once a project has been permitted, we also have the skills and knowledge to draft and negotiate the construction documents needed to complete the project in a cost-effective and timely manner.  Our construction experience includes green building design and renewable energy projects.   

Representative Matters 

  • Represented a school system in connection with a $35 million acquisition, financing and ground lease transaction for the district’s elementary and middle schools and for the construction of a new high school 
  • Represented a developer in connection with the acquisition, financing and construction of a continuing care retirement project
  • Represented a limited liability company in connection with the acquisition of a nursing home facility in Worcester
  • Represented a manufacturing company in connection with the acquisition and financing of a new manufacturing facility
  • Represented a developer in obtaining zoning and state relief for the redevelopment of a one million square-foot mill building
  • Represented several developers in large multi-building commercial office park projects
  • Represented a local college in the permitting of a new student residence hall and parking garage 

Environmental Law

The Environmental Law Group provides guidance and advice to clients in connection with the risk management and environmental due diligence issues that arise in the context of real estate transactions.  We have broad experience not only with hazardous materials compliance and remediation, but also with the regulations governing toxic substances, storm water control, Wetlands Protection Act compliance and endangered species impacts.  In addition, we can assist clients with point-source and non-point-source pollution control issues.

Land Use and Environmental Litigation

Our attorneys have extensive experience handling all types of real estate and environmental conflicts.  We understand that land is unique and that real estate disputes create challenging legal, financial and emotional issues.  Our litigators have the ability, resources and trial experience necessary to resolve these challenging issues in a creative and cost-effective manner.

We have successfully resolved cases on behalf of developers, contractors, buyers, sellers, landlords and commercial tenants.  We regularly handle zoning and subdivision disputes and appeals before local boards and in court.  We also represent clients in matters involving environmental contamination and remediation.  We have litigated numerous disputes arising out of the purchase and sale of real estate, including claims for breach of contract, misrepresentation and unpaid commissions.  We have also litigated a variety of matters involving title, adverse possession, boundary disputes, title insurance, tax abatement and eminent domain matters.

If a conflict concerns real estate, chances are good that a member of our litigation team has had experience handling similar matters.  In all land use disputes, we provide practical, creative and cost-effective solutions informed by the perspective that sophisticated trial experience provides. 

Representative Matters:

  • Represented a seller of real estate in obtaining an Appeals Court decision awarding our client damages for a buyer's failure to complete the purchase of commercial property 
  • Successfully defended beneficiaries of a trust who were sued by a family member who sought ownership of trust real estate.  Legal issues raised at trial included judicial estoppel, laches, the statute of frauds, the statute of wills, the canons of ethics, adverse possession and constructive trust 
  • Defended a restaurant owner in the Superior Court and in the Appeals Court by proving that the restaurant would not infringe on the plaintiff's legal and private rights and that therefore the plaintiff had no standing to challenge the zoning relief afforded the restaurant 
  • Negotiated a resolution to a long-term dispute by forcing the sale of real estate through a petition to partition, by filing suit against an escrow agent and by cooperating with the commissioner’s plan to auction the estate 
  • Successfully argued that an unrecorded stock purchase agreement purporting to convey an interest in land to a shareholder was not a legitimate conveyance of real property, enabling our banking client's foreclosure to proceed 
  • Represented a land owner in Land Court and the Appeals Court in an adverse possession case in which our client obtained title to upland and tidal flats 
  • Defended a municipal zoning board of appeals in the Superior Court by proving that the board correctly determined that the plaintiff's construction violated the intensity regulations and constituted a prohibited alteration and reconstruction of a non-conforming use or structure 
  • Derailed an abutter's challenge to a special permit granted to a client for the construction and use of property as a continuing care retirement facility
  • Resolved a state Fire Marshall appeal enabling an energy company to proceed with the repair of an underground storage tank after a local fire chief had initially denied a permit to repair the tank
  • Successfully represented a municipality before the Supreme Judicial Court regarding a claim of a regulatory taking by a government authority 
  • Represented a municipality before the Appeals Court, which upheld a zoning board's decision to deny modifications to a comprehensive permit under Chapter 40B for an affordable housing development