In order to make certain improvements to your property, you may need approval from a local planning board. If the process does not end in a favorable decision, you can appeal. A February, 1, 2018 real estate case before the Land Court arose out of the plaintiffs’ efforts to develop their Massachusetts property. They had applied to the town’s planning board, seeking approval of an improvement plan. When the board denied their application, the plaintiffs appealed. The case was eventually remanded back to the Land Court by the Massachusetts Court of Appeals, which reversed the ruling as to one of the plaintiffs’ claims. Consequently, the matter was before the Land Court for a second time.
In the case, the only remaining issue to be resolved was the plaintiffs’ certiorari action. Certiorari is available if the proceeding is judicial or quasi-judicial, there are no other reasonably adequate remedies, and a substantial injury or injustice arose from the proceeding under review. For the Land Court, the matter for review was the planning board’s decision. The question for the court was whether or not there were grounds that a reasonable person would find proper to support the board’s decision.
The plaintiffs in the case sought approval of a plan that would allow their property to have adequate frontage on a certain way. The application was submitted through the adequate access review process, which is used so that a way or street can be improved, without having to obtain definitive subdivision approval. The limited circumstances in which these regulations may be applied require the way to meet the definition of a street under the by-laws, and the lot that has frontage on the way must have been in existence before subdivision control was adopted. The plaintiffs were therefore required to demonstrate that both the way and the lot met the requirements provided.