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.

Practice Chair

Todd K. Helwig

Todd K. Helwig
Partner

Peter J. Dawson

Peter J. Dawson
Partner

John O. Mirick

John O. Mirick
Of Counsel

Brian Falk quoted in Telegram, "Central Mass. draws interest as hub of marijuana business"

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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's 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 governmental 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

Zoning Appeal Plaintiff Must Prove Standing, Even if Defendant Town Does Not Contest Issue at Trial

On Tuesday, the Appeals Court issued its opinion in Talmo v. Zoning Board of Appeals of Framingham.  Massachusetts suffers no shortage of case law on standing (the right to file suit) in zoning appeals.  In this case, the issue was …

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(Reluctantly) Open for Business: Momentum Gathering for Expanded Use of Continuous Operations Clauses

Two recent court decisions may embolden commercial landlords to use a familiar lease provision in an unusual way when responding to tenants seeking to close their business operations before the end of the lease term. Continuous operations clauses are common …

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Construction Defect Claims and the Often Misunderstood Application of Express and Implied Warranties

A claim for breach of construction warranty must be filed within the time allowed by the applicable statutes of limitation or repose.  Most jurisdictions, including Massachusetts, allow parties to modify that period by agreement.  The agreement must be particular and …

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Massachusetts High Court Recognizes Employee Right of Qualified Medical Marijuana Users To Allege Handicap Discrimination For Off-Site Use of Medicinal Marijuana

Originally posted on

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New 2017 AIA Documents Released – Are You Prepared?

The construction contracts created by American Institute of Architects (“AIA”) have, for several decades, been established as the industry standard for contract forms.  There exist AIA forms for every imaginable project relationship and delivery method.  Every ten years or so, …

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Enforcing “No-Damage-for-Delay” Clauses: A Potential Landmark Construction Law Decision from the Massachusetts Appeals Court

A recent decision from the Massachusetts Appeals Court is likely to have a substantial impact on construction contract and claims practice in the Commonwealth.  The Massachusetts State College Building Authority (“MSCBA”) hired Suffolk Construction Company, Inc. (“Suffolk”) to serve as …

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A Modern Take on the Antiquities Act of 1906

During the waning days of his administration, President Obama used the Antiquities Act of 1906 (16 USC 431-433) (“Act”) to create expansive national monuments on land and at sea.  According to the National Park Service, he established 34 national monuments …

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What Does It Mean To Purchase An Additional Insured Endorsement?

In the construction industry, it is standard for ‘upstream’ parties to require ‘downstream’ parties to purchase and maintain general liability insurance coverage, at varying limits, and to obtain an endorsement adding all or most ‘upstream’ parties as ‘additional insureds’ under …

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Update on St. John’s Holdings, LLC.  v. Two Electronics, LLC

On October 24th, 2016, the Massachusetts Land Court revised its ruling in St. John’s Holdings, LLC. v. Two Electronics, LLC  (2016 WL 1460477 (2016).  The underlying case (the subject of a prior blog article) involved electronic communication and the Statute …

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Deadline for Owners of Single Wall Steel Tanks Looming

by Joseph S. Campisi, President, Corporate Environmental Advisors, Inc. The Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (“MassDEP”) promulgated underground storage tank (UST) regulations on January 2, 2015 that replaced the Massachusetts Department of Fire Service (“DFS”) regulations at 527 CMR 9.00. …

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A Turn of Events for Worcester’s Former County Courthouse

The former Worcester County Courthouse at 2 Main Street was supposed to be converted into residential housing units and retail space after the City reached an agreement in March 2015 to sell it to Brady Sullivan Properties, LLC, a New …

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Trump’s Pruitt Pick for EPA Signals Greater Predictability in Environmental Rulemaking, Enforcement

President-elect Donald Trump’s team announced yesterday his selection of Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt to head the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. The Pruitt pick is nearly as polarizing as the election itself. Pruitt describes himself as a “leading advocate against …

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