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Ways to approach a zoning or building permit denial

There's no denying that Boston and many of its surrounding suburbs have a great deal of history. According to the city of Boston's website, there are nine local Historic District Commissions that review property owners' requests to make exterior design changes to real estate located within designated districts. 

Yet even if an individual doesn't live in a historic district, there may be other municipal regulations that impact an individual's plans to buy or sell a house. One prospective homeowner's nightmare experience with a building permit revocation illustrates that a conversation with a real estate attorney might be a wise safeguard in many instances.

The man, an architect, had obtained a residential building permit from the local municipal land use and zoning board. With that and other approvals in hand, the man began construction of his dream house. Yet before it could be completed, a neighbor launched a complaint about the building’s modern style being inappropriate for the historic district. That complaint led to a revocation of the man’s building permit. Hopefully, the man will prevail in the administrative appeals process, but for the time being, construction on the house has been halted. 

Building codes, licenses, zoning approval, title matters and a host of other issues can throw a wrench into a real estate transaction. If a permit is rejected, it is important for both residential homebuyers and commercial real estate developers to know that an administrative appeals process is available. Even if existing conditions seem incompatible with regulatory requirements, a variance or other application may be available. An attorney may be able to save development or renovation plans that have been brought to a standstill by alleged regulatory violations.

Source: The New York Times, “Don’t Like Your Neighbors’ House? Sue Them,” Allison Arieff, July 12, 2014

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