Gareth Orsmond is a real estate lawyer with expertise in land use, environmental and municipal law; real estate conveyancing, leasing, and financing; and complex development and redevelopment work. Gareth’s practice transects permitting, litigation and transactional matters. His clients include large corporations, developers, non-profit organizations, municipalities, government agencies, and individuals.

During his more-than-20 year career, Gareth has played an important part in bringing to fruition several significant developments, such as University Station in Westwood, The St. Regis Residences in Boston, and The Skating Club of Boston’s state-of-the art training and performance center in Norwood. Through his work with the Cape Cod Commission, various nonprofit organizations, and others, he has contributed to environmental planning and policy, land conservation, and affordable housing efforts. He also is committed to legal education. Since 2012, he has been an adjunct professor at New England Law|Boston.

Gareth graduated from Yale University and the Northwestern School of Law of Lewis & Clark in Portland, Oregon, where he earned a public interest scholarship and focused on environmental and land use law through the school’s nationally-recognized program. Gareth also has a master's in jazz studies, with honors, from the New England Conservatory of Music. He has performed at the Village Vanguard in New York, Ronnie Scott's in London, and other venues, and has published articles on jazz. He remains deeply into music. 

Honors & Distinctions

  • Recognized as a top-rated attorney by Super Lawyers

Professional Activities

  • Adjunct professor, Land Use Clinic and Land Use Law, New England Law|Boston, 2012-present
  • Lecturer on affordable housing, American Planning Association and Boston University's Metropolitan College of City Planning and Urban Affairs
  • Member, New Hampshire Bar Association – Environment and Natural Resource, Municipal and Government, Real Property, and Telecommunications, Energy and Utility Sections
  • Past Member, Public Private Partnership and Housing and Economic Development Councils of the Urban Land Institute, the Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce, Boston Bar Association, Massachusetts Bar Association, and American Bar Association's Natural Resources, Energy & Environmental Law Section

Publications

  • “Enforcement of Zoning Requirements,” The Massachusetts Zoning Manual (MCLE 2002, 2006, 2007, 2010, 2013, 2015, 2017, 2019)
  • Common & Complex Waterfront Property Issues (MCLE 2008, 2011, 2014)
  • The Massachusetts Ocean Management Plan: Applying the Lessons of Land Use to the Development and Use of the Ocean’s Resources (ABA presentation 2010)
  • Contributing author, Massachusetts Dirt & Development Law, Massachusetts Land Use Monitor (legal blogs, 2010 through present)
  • Legal Commentary, Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection Reporter (Landlaw, Inc., 2003-2013

Civic Activities

  • Treasurer, Board of Directors, Yale Club of New Hampshire, 2015-present
  • Leadership New Hampshire, Class of 2018
  • Board of Trustees, Concord Community Music School, 2016-2018
  • Mentor, Association of Yale Alumni Alumni-Student Pilot Mentoring Program
  • Delegate, Assembly of Delegates, Association of Yale Alumni
  • Clerk, Board of Directors, Westwood Land Trust, 2003-2006

Practice Areas

Representative Experience

Multi-Family/Waterfront

  • Lead counsel for Cronin Holdings on waterfront permitting for The St. Regis Residences, a $260 million mixed-use project in Boston’s Innovation District featuring an iconic 22-story building designed by Elkus Manfredi and significant public benefits, including funding for 46 units of affordable senior housing and harbor experiences for disadvantaged children; also lead litigation counsel in lawsuits filed by The Conservation Law Foundation; Cronin Holdings CEO Jon Cronin said, “Gareth treated all of our challenges as if they were his own and provided clear, thoughtful legal counsel and strong advocacy.”

Mixed Use

  • Special town counsel for the Town of Westwood, Mass., on several matters, including: (i) University Station, a 2.1 million-square-foot multiphase mixed-use project that turned a moribund industrial park into a vibrant development; among other things, Gareth prepared zoning bylaws, oversaw the town’s use of eminent domain powers, and led efforts to secure affordable housing; and (ii) the redevelopment of Islington center, for which Gareth prepared a 99-page land disposition agreement to govern complex land swaps essential to the redevelopment.

Sports Facilities

  • Counsel for The Skating Club of Boston for its development of a three-rink, 179,000-square foot training and performance center in Norwood, Mass., including an Olympic-sized arena and training facilities designed in partnership with The Micheli Center For Sports Injury Prevention. CEO and Executive Director Doug Zeghibe said, “Gareth was thorough and efficient in providing counsel for all of our purchase and sale transactions. Having never bought or developed commercial property, we were new to the industry. He worked through the process with us and fully explained every situation. His services were detailed and complete, and delivered with a professionalism and perspective that were greatly appreciated.”

Industrial

  • Counsel for the developer of a four-story, state-of-the-art self-storage facility with co-working space in Quincy, Mass., that required carving out land from a Home Depot parking lot to create a new parcel, extending a public way to create frontage, amending several permits previously granted to Home Depot, securing new permits, and abandoning municipal easements.

Public Trust Doctrine/Waterways

  • Obtained separate Land Court and Suffolk Superior Court judgments holding that the Mystic River Wharfing Acts from the 1800s extinguished the public interest in tidelands improved with two turn-of-the century warehouse buildings, removing the land and buildings from the jurisdiction of the Public Waterfront Act, M.G.L. c. 91.

Representative Experience

Commercial

  • Represented The Skating Club of Boston in the subdivision and sale of land off Soldiers Field Road in Boston, Mass., for over $40 million and the division and purchase of land in Norwood, Mass., for development of a new training and performance center, which required relocating and renegotiating a complex network of easements developed for an abandoned office park.

Leasing/Ground Leases

  • Prepared a lengthy, detailed ground lease for parts of Hood Park, a 20-acre mixed-use, transit-oriented development.
  • Negotiated and prepared numerous commercial leases, including a lease for an energy storage project in southern Massachusetts and leases for The Skating Club of Boston, as tenant and as landlord.

Hospitality

  • Represented hotel developers in several matters, including (i) the purchase, repurposing, and refinancing of a 129-room extended stay hotel in New Hampshire, and (ii) counseling a 326-room micro hotel in Boston’s Seaport District on complicated title and title insurance matters arising from land use controls and air rights.

Affordable Housing

  • Counsel for a developer purchasing apartments in Quincy, Mass., and converting these apartments to affordable, workforce housing using various subsidies and funding sources, including a $2.5 million no-interest loan from Quincy’s Affordable Housing Trust Fund and low-income housing tax credits.
  • Led permitting efforts for many affordable housing developments, ranging from 8 to 200 units.
  • Counsel clients on low-income housing tax credits and other subsidies and funding mechanisms.

Government Subsidies

  • Represented the Massachusetts Development Finance Agency in several subsidizing efforts, including subsidies for (i) improvements to Union Station in Springfield in connection with redevelopment secured by mitigation payments from a casino, and (ii) a 70-unit mixed-use, work-force housing development in Beverly, Mass.

Representative Experience

Environmental Policy and Planning

  • Long-time outside counsel to the Cape Cod Commission; advises the Commission on conflicts of interest, open meeting law requirements, public records law, and land use and environmental matters generally; reviews and prepares legislation and regulations to develop regulatory and planning initiatives.

Hazardous Waste Cleanup

  • Lead counsel for the City of Somerville with respect to contamination at Conway Park due to historical industrial uses in the neighborhood.
  • Represented the trustee of a government-appointed custodial trust of land within the Industriplex Superfund Site in Woburn, Mass., in the discharge of its fiduciary duties under a consent decree and other agreements.
  • Counseled a condominium association in Somerville, Mass., on indoor air quality issues caused by groundwater contamination due to past manufacturing uses.

Environmental Damage/Public Interest

  • Represented the City of Somerville in its dispute over the environmental, health and quality of life impacts of a large resort casino proposed in close proximity to Assembly Square and City Hall; successfully challenged the casino's waterways license through an administrative appeal that, among other thing, led to a condition requiring water transportation to mitigate traffic impacts; negotiated an impact mitigation agreement.
  • Represented families whose homes were built on contaminated municipal landfills in different towns, obtaining settlement agreements with high six-figure damages in each case.

Water Pollution Abatement

  • Counsel for the Cape Cod and Islands Water Protect Fund Management Board; prepared bylaws and regulations to establish protocols for a new subsidy program for water pollution abatement projects in conjunction with the Clean Water Trust and the Massachusetts State Revolving Fund.

Drinking Water Supply

  • Counseled a 101-home community in New Hampshire’s seacoast region facing salt water intrusion of its private water supply; negotiated a comprehensive agreement with the municipality to extend the public water supply to serve the community.

Conservation

  • Represented the YMCA Southcoast in amending a conservation restriction to permit the use of property in Dartmouth, Mass., for its “Sharing the Harvest” community farm.
  • Represented the Westwood Land Trust in its first-ever purchase of development rights in a 33.4-acre parcel of land near Hale Reservation for conservation purposes.

Representative Experience

Energy Storage Projects

  • Represents a clean energy company in a transaction involving battery storage facilities.

Power Plant Due Diligence

  • Performed due diligence for one of the largest power generation companies in the U.S. in connection with its bid to obtain several power plants in New England.

Federal Energy Regulation

  • Represented a major technology company impacted by the layout of a gas pipeline; intervened in a Federal Energy Regulatory Commission proceeding to resolve the dispute.

Representative Experience

  • Haugh v. Housing Appeals Comm., et al., Civil Action No. 1882CV01167 (Norfolk Sup. Ct. 2019), and Warren Place LLC v. City of Quincy Zoning Bd. of Appeals, Docket No. 2017-0 (Housing Appeals Comm. 2018) (overturning the denial of a comprehensive permit under M.G.L. c. 40B and upholding the Housing Appeals Committee decision)
  • Donato Pizutti, as Trustee of CCC Realty Trust, v. Commonwealth of Massachusetts, Civil Action No. 1784CV00261 (Suffolk Sup. Ct. 2017), and Land Court Case No. 16-SBQ-01874-11-001 (2017) (declaring the public trust doctrine and M.G.L. c. 91 inapplicable to certain tidelands)
  • Matter of Wynn MA, LLC, Docket No. 2016-004 (Mass. Dep’t of Environmental Protection 2016) (resulting in changes to a major waterways license on appeal)
  • Palitz v. Zoning Bd. of Appeals of Tisbury, 470 Mass. 795 (2015) (amicus) (limiting the extension of lawfully pre-existing nonconforming uses)
  • Alliance to Protect Nantucket Sound, Inc. v. Energy Facilities Siting Board, 457 Mass. 663 (2010) (clarifying the relationship between energy regulation and the Cape Cod Commission Act)
  • Arno v. Commonwealth, 457 Mass. 434 (2010) (establishing new law on the public trust doctrine and title to registered land)
  • Zoning Bd. of Appeals of Canton v. Housing Appeals Committee, 451 Mass. 158 (2008) (upholding comprehensive permit regulations)
  • Allen Homestead Development, LLC v. Town of Sturbridge Cons. Commission, 20 Mass. L. Rapt. 564 (2006) (overturning a denial under a local wetlands protection ordinance)
  • Zuckerman v. Town of Hadley, 442 Mass. 511 (2004) (amicus) (overturning a zoning bylaw establishing annual limits on building permits)