Throughout Massachusetts, multi-unit residential developments like condominiums provide much-needed housing options for residents. In order to build one or more condominium buildings, a developer must ensure that the purchased land is zoned for multi-unit residential use and that there are no other existing zoning, land-use or environmental laws that may inhibit development.
About an hour-and-a-half northeast of Worcester is the Ipswich River which runs “about 45 river miles from its source to the sea.” Much of the land surrounding the river is protected under the state’s environmental laws. There are areas along the river that are zoned for residential use and the use of one of those plots of land is currently at the center of a land dispute between a private resident and a residential developer who wants to build a condominium development.
While the developer contends he owns the entire parcel of land where a boatyard previously stood and that he has received permission to build within the former boatyard’s footprint, a private resident contends she owns a portion of the riverfront lot and even paid taxes on it in previous years. The matter is currently being heard and decided by the Land Court.
In addition to the dispute regarding ownership of the land, the developer is also fighting with the Conversation Commission and Zoning Board over the development of the condo buildings. Current zoning laws for the area are restricted to “single or two-family dwellings.” While the area’s Planning Board denied the developers plans to build a three-condominium building, the developer insists it did so after the deadline and, in response, filed a Constructive Approval appeal.
As this example illustrates, for land developers, disputes and legal battles related to land use, zoning and conservation are common and can result in costly delays to planned projects. Given the complexity of these types of real estate disputes, it’s imperative to have a legal professional on one’s side who is well-versed in commercial and residential real estate matters.
Source: Wicked Local Ipswich, “Land dispute tangles condo plans on Ipswich River,” Sally Kuhn, Nov. 12, 2015