A conservation restriction (CR) is an established and popular method of preserving land. Throughout Massachusetts, municipalities, private land owners, and non-profit organizations use CRs to protect natural resources from development. A recent superior court case, Wellesley Conservation Council, Inc. v. Pereira, addressed CR violations and corresponding demands for relief. According to the Court, the holder of a CR is entitled to enforcement and restoration but may not collect monetary damages. (more…)
On April 28, 2017, President Donald Trump signed an executive order called Implementing an America-First Offshore Energy Strategy (Order). The Order established a policy of “energy security and economic vitality” through offshore energy exploration and production. It also directed the Secretary of Department of the Interior to review existing offshore oil and gas leasing plans. Pursuant to the Order, Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke recently released the draft proposal of the 2019-2024 Outer Continental Shelf Oil and Gas Leasing Program (OCS Program). The draft OCS Program substantially deviates from the prior administration’s offshore leasing program and has caused concern among environmental groups and officials from coastal states such as Massachusetts.
Partnerships among federal and state agencies, private parties, and non-governmental organizations play an important role in conserving fish and wildlife habitat. The importance of this collaboration for habitat protection and management is detailed in the State Wildlife Action Plan, which MassWildlife updated in order to receive funding under the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s State Wildlife Grant Program. As noted by its authors, effective partnerships leverage limited economic and personnel resources and may facilitate efforts to achieve the Plan’s objectives for habitat conservation.
On October 24th, 2016, the Massachusetts Land Court revised its ruling in St. John’s Holdings, LLC. v. Two Electronics, LLC (2016 WL 1460477 (2016). The underlying case (the subject of a prior blog article) involved electronic communication and the Statute of Frauds (G.L. c. 259 Section 1). In its updated ruling, the Court analyzed whether the seller gave his real estate broker decision-making authority.
The rapid expansion in mobile communication has stretched the limits of many longstanding legal frameworks, including the Statute of Frauds (“SOF”) (G.L. c. 259 § 1). This is certainly the case with respect to real estate transactions. In fact, 97% of respondents to a recent Pew Research Center survey indicated they use a smartphone for text messaging. This same survey indicated that 44% of respondents utilize their phone to look up real estate listings and property information. As a recent land court case reminds us, however, the use of text messaging and email when negotiating real estate transactions can bring unintended legal consequences.
The Massachusetts Appeals Court recently reviewed adverse possession of wild and wooded areas. In Paine v. Sexton, 88 Mass. App. Ct. 389 (2015), the Plaintiff campground operators asserted rights to property based on record title and adverse possession. While it did not validate record title, the Court recognized the Plaintiffs’ adverse possession claims. In doing so, the Court departed from the traditional requirements for adverse possession of land in its natural state. For owners of large tracts of undeveloped land, this case serves as a reminder of the risks posed by adverse possession.
Private landowners allowing public access to land should take note of recent court decisions which have refined the scope of the Recreational Use Statute, G.L. c. 21, § 17C (“Statute”). The Massachusetts Legislature enacted the Statute in 1972 in response to liability concerns of property owners and to encourage public access to private property. Over time, the Statue has proven to be a valuable defense against many premises liability claims. As a result, property owners should evaluate their land use practices to ensure compliance with the Statute’s procedural requirements.