Real estate is unique and every parcel presents unique challenges, whether the goal is to preserve, enhance or realize its value.  Land is subject to the jurisdiction of myriad local, state, and federal agencies as well as the legal rights of adjoining owners and other private parties, all of which affect a parcel’s use and development potential.  In a densely populated region like New England, these layers of government regulation and private rights give rise to conflicts in which the guidance of experienced counsel is essential to achieving your goal.  The attorneys in our Land Use Practice Group work proactively with our clients to avoid these conflicts and, if they prove unavoidable, to resolve them without litigation.  Sometimes, however, litigation becomes necessary.       

Pierce Atwood’s attorneys have exceptional breadth and depth of experience in all aspects of real estate and land use litigation.  Our clients include local, regional, and national real estate developers, lenders, retailers, manufacturers, utilities, schools and high net worth individuals that own, buy, sell, and develop residential and commercial property. Collectively, our attorneys have handled thousands of real estate disputes, ranging from hearings before local land use boards, to administrative appeals at state and federal agencies, to complex cases in the state and federal courts, both at trial and on appeal. Our vast experience enables us to provide sound advice and skilled representation in matters such as:

  • Administrative and judicial appeals from decisions of local land use boards and state and federal agencies concerning residential, commercial, and mixed-use projects, both defending approvals and challenging denials
  • Challenges to the validity and applicability of zoning, subdivision, wetlands, and other land use regulations
  • Disputes involving real estate titles, including conflicts over ownership, easements, and access rights
  • Title insurance claims and coverage disputes
  • Conflicts particular to waterfront property, such as disputes over property boundaries, beach access, view easements, dock licensing, wetlands, tidelands, and littoral rights
  • Cases involving adverse possession and prescriptive easements
  • Litigation involving restrictive covenants, conservation restrictions, and other private and statutory land use restrictions
  • Petitions to partition commonly owned land, including land held by individuals, trusts, and partnerships
  • Administrative and judicial appeals involving local and state property tax assessments and abatements
  • Cases involving the development and operation of residential and commercial condominiums
  • Disputes over real estate contracts, including offers to purchase, purchase and sale agreements, rights of first refusal, and options
  • Conflicts arising out of real estate loans, such as disputes over the validity and priority of mortgages, loan workouts, foreclosures, lender liability, and bankruptcy
  • Cases concerning commercial leases representing both landlords and tenants
  • Litigation over eminent domain takings by local and state governments and quasi-public agencies
  • Disputes involving contaminated land, including assessment, remediation, and cost recovery

Representative Experience

We received two favorable appellate decisions on behalf of our developer client, Montrose School Park, LLC, in a series of cases challenging permits for a residential cluster development in Beverly, Massachusetts. Browne v. Conservation Commission of Beverly, 85 Mass. App. Ct. 1121 (2014) (unpublished) and Browne v. Planning Board of Beverly, 91 Mass. App. Ct. 1125 (2017) (unpublished).

Favorable Appellate Decisions for Real Estate Developer

We received a favorable trial decision from the Superior Court on behalf of our client, 246 Main Street Realty, LLC, holding that the plaintiffs failed to prove adverse possession of a portion of the parking lot for the client’s commercial building.

Favorable Decision in Adverse Possession Claim

We received a favorable trial decision from the Land Court on behalf of a private client, overturning a special permit that authorized an abutting owner to replace a residential cottage on Nantucket Harbor with a commercial use.

Land Court Overturns Special Permit