Land Use & Real Estate Litigation

The ownership, development and use of real estate frequently involves complex challenges. Occasionally, these challenges produce conflicts between landowners and an administrative body, sometimes, even between neighbors. When clients need help resolving difficult disputes, they rely on our lawyers to advocate for them in court, before administrative bodies, or in arbitration and mediations.

Our attorneys regularly litigate a wide range of cases in the Massachusetts Land Court, state, federal and appellate courts, Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court, Appeals Court, Land Court, Superior Court, Federal District Court, Appellate Tax Board, state district courts, Boston Housing Court, and the Boston Municipal Court.

Matters in which we have experience include:

  • Zoning, subdivision, wetlands and land use permitting appeals
  • Chapter 40B comprehensive permit and subdivision appeals
  • Title disputes
  • Easement and right-of-way disputes
  • Partition cases
  • Condominium governance issues
  • Environmental contamination disputes
  • Eminent domain claims
  • Construction claims
  • Tax abatement and exemption issues

We also represent clients in Department of Environmental Protection administrative appeals involving the Wetlands Protection Act, the Rivers Act and Title 5 and other environmental permits.

Client Successes

  • Successfully challenged constitutionality of Massachusetts estate tax as applied to foreign real estate.
  • Obtained favorable judgment from the Supreme Judicial Court granting a college permission to sell land conveyed in trust under the doctrines of reasonable deviation and cy pres.
  • Successfully defended nursing home redevelopment from zoning challenge in Welch-Philippino v. Zoning Bd. of Appeals of Newburyport, 86 Mass. App. Ct. 258 (2014).
  • Obtained summary judgment for a non-profit 40B developer on the grounds that plaintiffs lacked standing to sue and successfully defended the case in the Massachusetts Appeals Court.
  • Represented the owner of a beachfront lot in successfully defending adverse possession and implied easement claims and established ownership to the low tide mark and defended the judgment in the Massachusetts Appeals Court.
  • Successfully challenged a Town of Hadley rate of development zoning bylaw and defended the decision in the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court.
  • Successfully navigated a Newton synagogue through the permitting process involving application of the Dover Amendment and RLUIPA protections
  • Represent members of the aggregate industry before local authorities in connection with permitting and zoning issues inherent in sand and gravel operations.
  • Obtained summary judgment for residential property owners in Land Court on the ground that a protective covenant agreement affecting all owners in a subdivision did not create an affirmative view easement burdening the clients’ property.
  • Successfully appealed to the Massachusetts Appeals Court a Superior Court decision affirming a conservation commission’s denial of a property owner’s notice of intent to construct a beach-access walkway within a resource area protected by the Massachusetts Wetlands Protection Act.
  • Represented regional land use planning authorities in numerous permit appeals in Land Court and Superior Court.
  • Represented a private developer of commercial real estate, upholding the client's special permit by winning on summary judgment in Land Court.

Team Spotlight

Johanna W. Schneider

Johanna Schneider advises clients on real estate development permitting and land use and environmental disputes. She represents public and private clients in real estate disputes at all stages of litigation, including mediations and appeals.

SJC decision sets precedent for state’s religious institutions

Hemenway & Barnes secured a significant appellate victory on behalf of the National Shrine of Our Lady of La Salette. The SJC ruled on appeal that La Salette is exempt from local property taxes on the basis that the property is and was used for religious worship and instruction and purposes related to or supporting its dominant religious use.

News & Articles

Article
The Millionaire’s Tax in Massachusetts
Massachusetts voters approved the adoption of an amendment to the Massachusetts Constitution to establish an additional 4% state income tax on the portion of a taxpayer’s annual income that exceeds $1 million. What should you be thinking about?
Event
Donna Mizrahi to Moderate “When Estate Planners and Real Estate Lawyers Don’t Speak the Same Language" at the 2022 REBA Annual Meeting & Conference.
Donna Mizrahi will be moderating “When Estate Planners and Real Estate Lawyers Don’t Speak the Same Language” at the 2022 REBA Annual Meeting & Conference on Monday, November 14th, 2022.
Article
Massachusetts Taxpayers to Receive Excess Tax Revenue Refunds
Approximately 3 million Massachusetts taxpayers will receive a tax refund of 14% of their 2021 state income tax liability.
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