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February 2017

Gordon & Rees Boston Environmental Team Secures Land Court Success

Boston Environmental Partner Margaret Stolfa and Associate Saraa Basaria won a motion for summary judgment, successfully defending the client’s special permit against opposition from two abutting property owners. The Land Court affirmed and upheld the local Zoning Board of Appeal’s special permit without change. 

The client’s project involves the construction of a $1.5 million island home.  The plaintiffs argued that the nonconforming lot size should substantially limit the size of any new home on the property, prohibit construction of a garage and limit the outdoor use of the property. If the plaintiffs were successful, the property value would plummet and the client would be prevented from building her home.

The Zoning Board had granted the client’s application for a special permit, allowing her to demolish the small single family residence and two accessory structures, and replace them with a larger single family residence and garage with a detached bedroom.  The Court held that under the special permit criteria articulated in the local by-law and the statute, any rational board could have decided that the increase in size of the structures would be similar to other previously developed lots in the neighborhood and would not be more objectionable or substantially more detrimental to the character of the neighborhood than the original structures.  In approving the special permit the Court reasoned that the zoning law did not require neighborhoods to become stagnant and that the Zoning Board had supported its decision with reasonably applied findings and conditions.          

Margaret R. Stolfa