Land Use / Land Use Litigation

Integrating the firm’s Land Use and Land Use Litigation practice areas to provide the expertise necessary to assist real estate clients with the development and implementation of cohesive and effective land use and permitting strategies.

Riemer & Braunstein’s Land Use / Land Use Litigation Department integrates the firm’s Land Use practice and its Litigation practice areas into a cohesive practice group to provide clients with quality targeted legal advice. Oftentimes, development projects entail potential assessments of challenges to permits as well as environmental and other governmental regulation implications. The firm’s attorneys in these practice areas have extensive experience working together in all phases of real estate development projects and advocating for, and defending, our clients’ rights from numerous challenges and before various forums at the Federal, State and local levels. By coordinating these two practice areas, the firm has the ability to bring experienced talent to unique and often complex issues to develop cohesive and effective strategies in connection with the permitting of projects.

The firm’s land use practice is spearheaded by Robert Buckley and Mark Vaughan, two well-known and very experienced practitioners in representing real estate developers, property owners, and tenants in guiding real estate projects through the complicated network of Federal, State and local land use permitting. Our Burlington and Boston based attorneys focus on representing developers on projects throughout Massachusetts and cover the full spectrum of land use law, including the permitting and development of large corporate campuses and office parks, retail and mixed use redevelopments, and other commercial, industrial, and life science projects, as well as the permitting of multi-family housing developments, transit-oriented housing, and affordable housing developments approved pursuant to MGL Chapter 40B and Chapter 40R. Our staff also includes the services of a land use planner. The Burlington, Massachusetts office has been at the forefront of these activities for its over 50 years of operation.

Allocation of land use litigation resources to support this permitting effort is currently coordinated by Dennis E. McKenna who is a member of the firm’s Management Team and Chairman of the firm’s Litigation Department. Through this position, he is able to effectively mobilize resources on an as needed basis. Our land use litigation attorneys handle not only hearings before boards and agencies, but have extensive experience representing developers and real estate property owners in connection with zoning appeals, as well as before administrative agencies such as the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection. Many times to successfully assist in the entitlement of a development project, we have to work to resolve challenges by zealous third parties.

This group also has recognized expertise in wetlands and environmental law and regulations, and their impact on real estate development. It has represented clients in the redevelopment of two federal Superfund sites, the negotiation of consent orders with the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) and the litigation of environmental contamination claims. It also has made numerous successful appearances before the DEP to obtain superseding orders of conditions on appeals from local conservation commissions. In many more instances, attorneys in the group have been able to work out solutions acceptable to our clients through discussions with local conservation commissions.

This practice area works closely with the firm’s Real Estate/Business Law practice area to provide a broad array of services to our real estate clients.

Range of Services

  • Permitting
  • Zoning – including overlay, mixed-use and form based
  • Environmental law
  • Liquor licensing
  • Subdivisions
  • Appeals before various judicial and regulatory bodies including the Massachusetts Land Court; Massachusetts Superior Court; Housing Appeals Committee; Division of Administrative Law Appeals in environmental cases; and Department of Environmental Protection

Representative Projects

  • Repositioning for market of a 150-acre parcel and its subsequent permitting and development into the eastern United States campus of a major software company. The development currently consists of 1 million square feet of mixed-use office, research and non-destination accessory retail space and is expected to be 1.3 million square feet when fully built out.
  • Development of the Woburn Industri-Plex Superfund site, including obtaining PWED grants for the construction of roadway improvements and the permitting of over 1 million square feet of office and retail space, including a mixed office and research building for a leading bio tech company, the first Target store opened in Massachusetts and its own interstate highway interchange. The redevelopment of the site has received critical acclaim and awards.
  • Federal, state and local permitting of a regional outlet mall for a national retail development Real Estate Investment Trust (REIT)
  • Master planning and development of a major Brownfields site to include approximately 1 million square feet of office space, research and development space, and complementary uses, including an extended-stay hotel
  • Rezoning, permitting and approval for several mixed-use development districts, including:
    • a project consisting of 500 luxury residential units, 500,000 square feet of commercial space and amenities. The project is part of a master plan to create a “rail transit district” zoning overlay, which has received national recognition as an example of creative and responsible zoning.
    • a 625,000 square-foot development consisting of 500,000 square feet of commercial space and 125,000 square feet of residential space
    • a 750,000 square-foot commercial space, 500 unit residential and 150 room hotel project through the utilization of award winning zoning initiatives
  • Representation of national and local home builders in the permitting of multi-family housing units with affordable components utilizing the Massachusetts Comprehensive Permit Law, MGL Chapter 40B and the Smart Growth Zoning Overlay District Act, MGL Chapter 40R
  • Negotiation and implementation of a four-parcel “land swap” that resulted in the creation of 228 units of luxury and affordable housing and the development of 326,000 square feet of commercial office space. The project was awarded the Kenneth Pickard Municipal Innovation Award by the Massachusetts Municipal Association.
  • Creation of numerous retail developments, including acquisition, permitting and lease negotiations