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

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

[ read full story ]

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

EPA Issues Interpretive Statement: Groundwater Discharges are Not Subject to the Clean Water Act

In a not-so-stunning development, the EPA on Monday issued an Interpretive Statement putting to rest speculation on EPA’s position as to whether groundwater discharges are subject to federal jurisdiction under the Clean Water Act (CWA).  The answer:  “No.”  EPA’s 57-page …

[ load webpage to read more ]

Third Party Beneficiary Rights in Construction Contracts

Last week the United States District Court in Massachusetts issued an important decision concerning third party beneficiary rights in construction contracts.  In Arco Ingenieros, S.A. de C.V. v. CDM International Inc., Civil Action No. 18-12348-PBS, a design-builder incurred damages due …

[ load webpage to read more ]

Title Defect? Here’s How to Keep Your Deal on Track

You are under contract to sell a commercial or residential property and your attorney tells you two weeks prior to closing that the buyer’s title search has revealed a title defect. While there is a large array of issues that …

[ load webpage to read more ]

Short-Term Rental Law Takes Effect July 1st

Governor Baker recently signed “An Act Regulating and Insuring Short-Term Rentals”, imposing new taxes, registration and inspection requirements, and other rules governing the short-term rental of homes and residential units through Airbnb, VRBO, and similar platforms. Overview: The new law …

[ load webpage to read more ]

Recovery of Attorney’s Fees and Costs in Construction Disputes

When construction projects become construction disputes, contractors and suppliers start thinking about how to recover their attorney’s fees and other legal costs.  Massachusetts follows the “American Rule” for recovery of legal expenses that states each party must pay their own …

[ load webpage to read more ]

Construction Insurance: Game of Risk

Construction work is risky by nature.  Common risks include natural disasters, inclement weather, flood or fire, accidents t hat cause property damage or bodily injury, and the failure of one or more parties to perform their designated responsibilities, resulting in …

[ load webpage to read more ]

A Landfill Is Not a “Point Source” Under the Clean Water Act, So Says the 4th Circuit and D.Mass.

Two recent rulings address the issue of whether a landfill is a “point source” under the Clean Water Act, 33 U.S.C. § 1251 et seq. (CWA), Sierra Club v. Virginia Electric et al and Toxics Action Center et al v. …

[ load webpage to read more ]

The New Massachusetts Clean Energy Bill: Solar Advocates Left Waiting for the Next Installment

On July 31, 2018, the final day of its formal session, the Massachusetts legislature passed H. 4857, An Act to Advance Clean Energy, which Governor Baker signed into law on August 9. The bill represents several important steps forward in …

[ load webpage to read more ]

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 …

[ load webpage to read more ]

(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 …

[ load webpage to read more ]

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 …

[ load webpage to read more ]

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

[ load webpage to read more ]

Our Practices