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Massachusetts residents bring zoning dispute against developer

For residential and commercial developers alike, it can be a dangerous mistake to assume that land use and zoning laws in a new location will be similar. Indeed, a real estate attorney knows that differences can be significant from municipality to municipality. For that reason, any individual or entity planning on a new building project would be wise to consult with a real estate attorney.

Unfortunately, lawsuits often arise because variances in zoning or required permits are not discovered until money has already changed hands or investment funds have already been contributed. When such a discrepancy is discovered, an attorney may provide helpful advice on property rehabilitation or revision to development plans. An attorney can also provide representation for any administrative appeals, to the extent that a compromise, negotiation or revision to development plans is not possible.

As a recent story indicates, zoning disputes may erupt even when the local zoning authority or board has approved the development plan at issue. In this case, two residents in the Massachusetts town of Salem objected to a proposed natural gas-fired power plant project. The proposed development site is where an older facility used to operate. Notably, the residents were appealing the local zoning authority’s approval of the project.

Although the two residents have subsequently dropped their legal appeals, four other Salem residents have brought a federal appeal with the Environmental Protection Agency. On both sides, the complex interaction of zoning and environmental laws means that real estate attorneys may have their work cut out for them.

Source:, “Appeal against Salem power plant dropped,” March 31, 2014

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