With urban growth may come changes in environmental laws

As Boston has grown, so have its surrounding neighborhoods. In fact, according to the Boston Development Authority, the city has grown to twenty-six neighborhoods. Even more notable is that over half of those communities were once separate towns. The City of Boston gradually annexed them over time.

The BDA has addressed the changing environmental concerns stemming from urban growth through zoning laws. Keep in mind that the BDA is not the entity that enforces the zoning code. That duty falls to the Boston Zoning Commission. The BDA, in contrast, facilitates public dialogue in shaping future zoning policy.

The city’s zoning code, originally passed in 1964, has been adapted to fit current demands. Environmental regulations continue to adapt to pressures from overcrowding, increasing pollution from motor vehicles, and other strains resulting from dense population density.

A real estate attorney understands all too well that local environmental laws may change over time. For example, new rules can adversely impact real estate transactions. A potential buyer may find that the planned use of a property is nonconforming. Soil or groundwater pollution from the previous owner or occupant may have gone undetected until the prospective buyer attempted to complete his or her paperwork.

All of these examples illustrate the value of having an environmental law and real estate attorney review any proposed real estate transactions. An attorney can advise his or her client about the various environmental issues that could affect the purchase, sale or development of real property. Hopefully, a buyer who has consulted with an attorney will be able to identify potential areas of liability during the negotiation process, before getting locked into a deal.

Source: Boston Redevelopment Authority, “What is Zoning?” copyright 2014, Boston Redevelopment Authority