Faisal v. Historic Boston Inc.

Mass. Appeals Court, No. 16-P-814, June 13, 2017: Signature by one authorized corporate officer sufficient for restriction grant.

A church granted a historic preservation easement (called a “preservation restriction” in Massachusetts) and then sold the church property. The easement was signed for the church only by its president, who had been authorized to do so by a [...]

Boston Redevelopment Authority v. National Park Service (BRA II)

US Court of Appeals, First Circuit, No. 15-2270, September 23, 2016: Upholds NPS disapproval of Long Wharf restaurant use.

On appeal the court upheld the District Court decision in Boston Redevelopment Authority v. National Park Service (BRA I) 125 F.Supp.3d 325 (2015) in favor of the National Park Service (NPS), forbidding the Boston Redevelopment Authority (BRA) from using [...]

Smith vs. Westfield

Massachusetts Appeals Court, No. 15-P-773, August 25, 2016: Concurring opinion calls for change of test whether government designation gives land Mass. constitutional protection.

At issue here was the whether the City of Westfield had taken steps sufficient to make a playground subject to the protections of Massachusetts’ Constitution Article 97, which protects various conservation and historic preservation [...]

In Re: Nealon

U.S. Bankruptcy Appellate Panel, 1st Circuit, BAP NO. MW 15-035, Bankruptcy Case No. 14-40719-HJB, January 20, 2016: Homestead protection in Massachusetts depends on actual use of property when homestead arises, not owner’s intentions or the property’s subdivision.

This case is about whether the Massachusetts Homestead Act provides protection in bankruptcy for a debtor’s land adjacent to, but [...]

Boston Redevelopment Authority v. National Park Service

US District Court, D. Massachusetts, Civil Action No. 14-12990-PBS, August 26, 2015: Long Wharf Pavilion in Land and Water Conservation Fund restricted area can’t become restaurant.

The dispute underlying this case is whether the Plaintiff Boston Redevelopment Authority (BRA) may convert Long Wharf Pavilion, an open-air structure built in 1988 on Long Wharf in Boston Harbor, into [...]

Kaufman v. Commissioner (Kaufman V)

Court of Appeals, 1st Circuit, No. 14-1863, April 24, 2015: Penalty upheld for gross valuation misstatement.

The Kaufmans’ claim of a federal income tax deduction for donating a historic preservation easement (“preservation restriction” in Massachusetts) was denied after multiple court proceedings culminating in the Tax Court finding that the value of the easement was zero and that [...]

COMMUNITY INVOLVED IN SUSTAINING AGRICULTURE vs. BOARD OF ASSESSORS OF DEERFIELD

Mass.  Appeals Court, 13-P-1050, November 10, 2014: Agricultural buy-local organization exempt from real estate tax.

On appeal from the state’s Appellate Tax Board, the court held that Community Involved In Sustaining Agriculture (CISA) is entitled to exemption from local property tax on land it owns and occupies for its programs. At issue was whether the dominant purpose [...]

Chandler v. Commissioner

U.S. Tax Court, 142 T.C. 16, May 14, 2014: Preservation easement valuation zero in historic district. 2006 carryover deduction claim subject to accuracy penalty.

At issue was the valuation for federal income tax deduction purposes of historic preservation façade easements on two single-family residences in Boston’s South End Historic District.  The question was whether the burdens imposed [...]

NEFF v. Board of Assessors of Hawley

Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court, No. 11432, May 15, 2014: Nonprofit’s forest conservation land entitled to property tax exemption.

New England Forestry Foundation, Inc. (NEFF) is a nonprofit corporation, whose purposes include to “create, foster, and support conservation, habitat, water resource, open space preservation, recreational, and other activities” by “promoting, supporting, and practicing forest management policies and techniques [...]

Patterson v. Christ Church

Massachusetts Appeals Court, No. 13-P-354, April 3, 2014: Recreational use law from liability even when defendant gets economic benefit; no consumer protection liability either.

Linda Patterson brought suit after she was injured from a fall inside a historic church while she toured it. The Pattersons claimed the recreational use statute, M.G.L. c. 21, § 17C (current version [...]

Kaufman v. Commissioner (Kaufman IV)

U.S. Tax Court, T.C. Memo 2014-52, March 31, 2014: Façade Easement had zero value; penalties imposed.

The issues in this case about the federal tax deduction for a “qualified conservation contribution” (a historic preservation façade easement) were principally the valuation of the façade easement and what, if any, penalties the taxpayer should pay for misstating the value [...]

Van Liew v. Chelmsford

Mass. Appeals Court, No. 13-P-145, February 28, 2014: No municipal duty to enforce preservation easement; no standing for mandamus declaratory judgment.

Van Liew brought a mandamus action against the Selectmen of Chelmsford, MA, to require them to enforce a preservation easement. (In Massachusetts, Preservation easements and conservation easements are governed by the same statute, M.G.L. chapter 184, [...]

Kelley v. Cambridge Historical Commission

Massachusetts Appeals Court, No. 12-P-1309, Aug. 21, 2013: No standing to enforce perpetual restriction or challenge historical certificate of appropriateness.

Four individuals living in the vicinity of St. James Episcopal parish church (but not abutters), challenged actions by the Massachusetts Historical Commission (MHC) and the Cambridge Historical Commission (CHC) in connection with a commercial development on church [...]

Roman Catholic Bishop of Springfield v. City of Springfield (Bishop of Springfield II)

United States Court of Appeals, 1st Circuit, No. 11-1117, July 22, 2013: Church’s constitutional and RLUIPA claims against historic district designation not ripe or rejected.

The Roman Catholic Bishop of Springfield (RCB) closed the Our Lady of Hope (“Church”), built in 1925. The City of Springfield passed an ordinance (the “Ordinance”) declaring the Church property a historic [...]

Mahajan vs. Department of Environmental Protection

Mass. Supreme Judicial Court, SJC-11134, March 15, 2013: Public pavilion on land taken for urban renewal is not covered by Mass. Constitution’s environmental protection provision.

This case concerns the state’s oversight and control of the use of what has been a public space on land owned by the Boston Redevelopment Authority (BRA).  In 1964 the BRA, in [...]

White v. Hartigan

Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court, 464 Mass. 400, February 8, 2013: Upland boundary of beach parcel or easement does not move with landward erosion of shoreline.

The Nortons (plaintiffs and appellants) claimed that their fractional interest in a beach on Martha’s Vineyard conveyed rights in a moveable beach parcel that shifts upland with the northerly migration of the [...]

Kaufman v. Commissioner (Kaufman III)

US Court of Appeals 1st Circuit, Nos. 11-2017, 11-2022, July 19, 2012: Kaufman II overturned; mortgagees may reserve insurance proceeds; remand for valuation.

The First Circuit vacated the Tax Court decision in Kaufman II (except on the uncontested issues of deductibility of cash contributions and accuracy-related penalty associated with the cash contribution claim) and remanded the case [...]

Killorin v Zoning Board of Appeals of Andover

Mass. Appeals Court, No. 10-P-1665, October 14, 2011: Holds the enforceability beyond 30 years of land use restrictions set by a government agency, such as incident to the grant of a zoning special permit, is not limited by state statute that limits enforceability of restrictions on their face unlimited as to time.

The Massachusetts statute, M. G.L. [...]

Rosenfeld v. Zoning Board of Appeals of Mendon

Mass. Appeals Court, 78 Mass. App. Ct. 677, Jan. 28, 2011: Court held for the first time that an abutter has standing to seek enforcement of a deed restriction that does not refer to the abutter’s land or identify it as a benefited parcel.

The restriction, which ran with the land, was granted as a condition to [...]

Willowdale v. Board Of Assessors Of Topsfield

Appeals Court of Massachusetts, No. 10-P-605, February 16, 2011: Upholds the denial of a property tax exemption for a historic mansion and 6 surrounding acres, part of a state park leased under the state’s historic curatorship program to a private entity to operate a bed and breakfast and for other specified for-profit purposes. The private lessee [...]