Some homeowners impacted by a proposed change to a nearby property may have a way to legally oppose approval of the plan. In a May 3, 2019 Massachusetts real estate case, the Appeals Court of Massachusetts reviewed the issuance of a building permit to the defendant, a real estate developer. The plaintiffs filed the appeal after the local zoning board allowed the permit, and the Land Court subsequently upheld that decision.
The defendant in the case owned one lot in a small subdivision that consisted of four other lots with homes. The plaintiffs resided on the lot abutting the defendant’s property. After the defendant was issued a building permit to construct a home on the lot, the plaintiffs filed an action in Land Court to challenge the validity of the permit. The plaintiffs argued that the defendant’s lot did not comply with the rear lot dimensional requirements of the local zoning bylaws.
Under the local bylaws, a rear lot is defined as a parcel of land not fronting or abutting a street, and which has limited access to a street due to the shape of the lot, an easement, or a private right-of-way as shown on the recorded deed or subdivision plan. For a two-family rear lot in a multi-residence zone created after December of 1953, the bylaws require a minimum lot size of 12,000 square feet, which is subject to a maximum floor area ratio.