Before someone can challenge the validity of a permit issued to another landowner, that person must have legal standing. In a June 12, 2017 case, the issue for the Massachusetts Land Court was whether a plaintiff who lived across from the defendant’s property had standing to appeal a special permit granted to the defendant by the local zoning board. The special permit allowed the defendant to construct a four-unit residential building in a zone where three-unit buildings are allowed as of right and where larger buildings require a special permit.
The defendant in the case was a real estate developer that purchased property located across the street from the plaintiff’s house. The defendant sought a special permit to tear down the existing single-family home on the property and replace it with a single structure containing four residential units. After the zoning board granted the permit, the plaintiff appealed, alleging that she would be negatively affected by traffic and fire vehicle access that will result from the proposed development.
In order to have standing to challenge the defendant’s zoning permit, the plaintiff must be “aggrieved” as defined by law. People entitled to notice of the permit are entitled to a rebuttable presumption that they are aggrieved. In the case, the plaintiff was an abutter to an abutter within 300 feet of the defendant’s property, and as a result, she was entitled to the presumption that she is aggrieved.