Land Use and Zoning Issues

male entrepreneur talking on mobile phone during reviewing resumeReal Estate Attorneys Protecting the Rights of Boston Residents

If you plan to build or make improvements on your property, you may encounter land use and zoning issues that could derail your goals. These restrictions could affect your ability to build, develop, or use your property. At Pulgini & Norton, our real estate lawyers can identify and resolve complex land use and zoning issues in the Boston area. We offer focused and strategic advocacy in this area of law, which includes regulatory compliance, zoning variances, permits, and site plan reviews.

Land Use Issues

Federal and local governments regulate the use of land. For most property owners, the municipality in which their property is located will have the most direct impact on how they can use, build on, or develop it. A municipality restricts the use of land through zoning, which is when it separates land into different areas and assigns each area to a particular use. These zones are generally designated for residential, commercial, industrial, or agricultural use. Each zone may be further segregated for specific uses. For example, a residential zone may be segregated into single-family, low-density, and medium-density areas.

A municipality will codify land use and zoning through codes and ordinances. It can prevent or restrict any incompatible usage of land through its zoning code. If you own land in a residential area, for instance, you likely cannot build a factory on the property because that would go against the purpose of the area and would interfere with the rights of nearby homeowners. A zoning ordinance can also restrict your ability to build on or use your property. If you want to build an addition to your property, for instance, you may need to get approval before moving forward with your plan.

Boston Zoning Code

A property owner in Boston must comply with the Boston Zoning Code, which dictates how property can be used or developed in the city. Any property changes that do not conform to the zoning code will usually require a permit or a variance.

Many homeowners will need a permit for certain structural or occupancy changes to their property. This may include demolition, new construction or addition, change in occupancy maximum, or outdoor uses of property, such as building a new parking space or a pool.

Changes in use and dimensions will require prior approval by a plans examiner, who will determine if your plan complies with the city’s zoning code. You may also need approval from other departments, such as the Boston Redevelopment Authority, depending on the location, use, and size of the project. If your plan does not fit the zoning code requirements, you can appeal to the Zoning Board of Appeal. The appeals process includes a public hearing about your proposed plan.

Restrictions and Permissions for the Use of Private Property

You can also restrict the use of your property through a contract. For example, you may grant an easement to a utility company, which would allow it to use your property for a particular purpose. You can also grant an easement to a private party, such as giving your neighbor the right to use a path on your land.

Disputes can arise, however, if the same property is used by more than one party. If you purchase a home or other property, it is important to review the deed to see whether there are any easements or other potential uses that could trigger boundary disputes.

Consult a Boston Lawyer Skilled in Assisting Homeowners

The property attorneys at Pulgini & Norton have more than 40 years of collective experience representing homeowners near Boston in land use and zoning matters. We can advise you on these requirements to help you identify and avoid issues that could prevent your plans from moving forward. We work closely with other professionals, including land surveyors and engineers, to resolve any possible concerns. Our lawyers represent clients in Cambridge, Brookline, and Braintree, among other Massachusetts communities. To schedule a consultation, please call us at 781-843-2200 or complete our online form today.