For more than 40 years, Pierce Atwood's interdisciplinary Land Use attorneys have been advising regional and national developers, retailers, utilities, and property owners on complex issues related to their real estate development projects. We help our clients turn their renderings and plans into profitable, tangible development projects by providing guidance at every stage in the process from initial planning through permitting, construction, and occupancy.

Each development project presents a unique set of challenges and potential solutions, and many “land use” issues are not confined to traditional planning and zoning considerations. Our relationships with local planning boards and state and federal regulators, as well as our in-depth knowledge of state and federal land use laws, allows our lawyers to simplify and expedite the land use permitting process. We have successfully obtained federal, state, and local approvals for significant development projects in Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and throughout New England.

Our land use attorneys are skilled at identifying potential synergies and business considerations, and we draw upon the depth of the firm, as needed, to meet client objectives. For example, a significant commercial development may involve our land use team, and our state and local tax attorneys for advice on tax increment financing, our real estate attorneys for advice on title, transactional, or ownership documentation, our environmental attorneys for guidance on site assessment, remediation, and technical licensing issues, our construction attorneys to address the bidding process, and our litigation attorneys in judicial appeals.

Areas of Expertise

We represent our clients in all types of administrative and judicial appeals to both challenge and defend agency decisions. We have successfully represented clients on land use issues before administrative agencies such as the Maine Department of Environmental Protection, the New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services, and the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection, as well as hundreds of local boards of appeals.

While the goal is always to achieve the desired result without litigation, our lawyers have the expertise and experience to advise clients during the agency process on ways to improve the odds of success on appeal, such as by building an adequate record during the permitting process and preserving legal arguments that pay dividends later in court.

Representative Experience

Represented abutting landowners in 2015-16 in successfully appealing to the Town of Eliot, Maine Board of Appeals Planning Board site plan and subdivision approvals for a 21-unit elderly housing subdivision development.

Successful Appeal of Subdivision Development

Once a site is chosen, we help our clients design a strategy for efficient project approval by local, state, and federal regulators. We then work with clients to obtain the permits required for a project, including, for example, site plan, zoning, subdivision, wetland, and shoreland approvals. Having reviewed thousands of site plans and successfully managed the permitting process for major commercial, residential, and industrial development projects throughout New England, we regularly identify permitting needs, issues, and solutions. We work closely with consultants to help manage the permitting process from start to finish, avoiding delays and delivering positive results for our clients by saving time and money up-front in the process.

Representative Experience

Pierce Atwood attorney Gareth Orsmond played a leading role as part of a team that secured a waterways license for Cronin Holding’s 150 Seaport Boulevard project, a 250-foot tall, 22-story mixed use development in Boston’s Innovation District.  Gareth defended Cronin in multiple lawsuits brought by the Conservation Law Foundation and worked with former Massachusetts Governor William Weld to reach a settlement.  The project, built around an iconic building designed by Elkus Manfredi, will break ground in the spring of 2018 and will bring about significant public benefits, including 46 units of deeply subsidized senior housing and long-term funding to provide waterfront and Boston Harbor experiences to disadvantaged children from the City of Boston. 

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150 Seaport Boulevard Waterways License

Provided advice to client regarding the Massachusetts Permit Extension Act.

Advice on Massachusetts Permit Extension Act

Represented Bates College in 2015-2016 in obtaining municipal land use approvals for the construction of a replacement rowing team boat house on the Androscoggin River in Greene, Maine.  This work included defending an appeal of site plan approval to the Town of Greene Board of Appeals. 

Land Use Approvals for Bates Boat House

Assisted Charter Realty & Development in 2014 with City of Portland permitting needed to change the use of a restaurant to a Dunkin Donuts, with a drive-through window.

Permitting for Coffee Shop

Environmental and land use policy decisions directly affect our clients.  Our attorneys understand the intricacies of both existing environmental and land use laws and the legislative process.   Whether seeking to advance a client's own bills or respond to bills proposed by others, we develop an overall strategy to achieve favorable legislative results.  This may involve counseling a client through the legislative process, actively working with legislators and legislative committees, and forming coalitions.  We also represent clients in rulemakings conducted at the national and state levels, including under the Superfund Law, the Clean Air Act, the Clean Water Act, the Federal Power Act, the Safe Drinking Water Act, and state air, natural resource, water, solid waste, land use, and superfund laws.

Projects requiring environmental permits are closely scrutinized by regulators and often by other interested parties. We assist clients in dealing with project opponents, selecting appropriate professional consultants, and developing effective public relations campaigns. We have close relationships with a number of public relations specialists who handle regional and national accounts.

We work closely with our clients to manage the risks of their development projects even before a site is chosen. Our pre-acquisition due diligence process involves reviewing prospective sites to identify the regulatory requirements that would need to be met and to outline the permits required to develop a given location. We also work with our environmental attorneys to review environmental site assessments on contaminated properties to help clients identify risks and seize opportunities for redevelopment.

Working closely with our real estate attorneys, we help our clients identify, analyze, and comply with the zoning codes that govern their development sites. Sometimes a development project calls for contract zoning or zoning amendments to existing zoning codes. In these instances, we represent our clients before local planning boards and, when necessary, propose zoning changes that support economic development, urban planning, and conservation goals, while still preserving the experience of a community.

Representative Experience

The $1.5 billion Maine Power Reliability Program was the largest transmission project in Maine's history, with approximately 350 miles of new high voltage transmission line and five new substations. Pierce Atwood was instrumental in helping CMP assess the need for the project through the ISO-New England regional transmission planning process, overseeing the studies to develop the transmission solution for that need, preparing the non-transmission alternative assessment for the project, and obtaining all federal, state, and municipal environmental and land use permits for the project.

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$1.5 Billion CMP Maine Power Reliability Program

Pierce Atwood attorney Gareth Orsmond played a leading role as part of a team that secured a waterways license for Cronin Holding’s 150 Seaport Boulevard project, a 250-foot tall, 22-story mixed use development in Boston’s Innovation District.  Gareth defended Cronin in multiple lawsuits brought by the Conservation Law Foundation and worked with former Massachusetts Governor William Weld to reach a settlement.  The project, built around an iconic building designed by Elkus Manfredi, will break ground in the spring of 2018 and will bring about significant public benefits, including 46 units of deeply subsidized senior housing and long-term funding to provide waterfront and Boston Harbor experiences to disadvantaged children from the City of Boston. 

More
150 Seaport Boulevard Waterways License

Provided advice to client regarding the Massachusetts Permit Extension Act.

Advice on Massachusetts Permit Extension Act

We represented Berwick Iron & Metal Recycling in obtaining and defending state and local permits for expansion of a metal recycling operation. In December 2013, the Maine Supreme Judicial Court issued a decision rejecting the appeals and upholding the town-issued permits, Duffy v. Town of Berwick, 2013 ME 105.

Berwick Iron Permits to Expand Metal Recycling Facility

In a very challenging regulatory environment with significant opposition, we assisted our confidential client in obtaining the necessary permits and approvals to install meteorological towers in two communities in northern New Hampshire. Our efforts included representation before town zoning, planning, and select boards and successfully defending the approvals in Superior Court.

Installation of Meteorological Towers

Represented Bates College in 2015-2016 in obtaining municipal land use approvals for the construction of a replacement rowing team boat house on the Androscoggin River in Greene, Maine.  This work included defending an appeal of site plan approval to the Town of Greene Board of Appeals. 

Land Use Approvals for Bates Boat House

Representation of the Skating Club of Boston in the acquisition and development of a new, state-of-the-art, three-rink, 4,000-seat skating facility on University Avenue in Norwood, Massachusetts. We have assisted the Skating Club in all aspects of site acquisition, title matters (including clearing some old reciprocal easements for an office park that was never developed), zoning, wetlands and MEPA permitting, payment in lieu taxes agreements, and development agreements. We also represented the Skating Club in the sale of its existing facility at 1234 and 1240 Soldier’s Field Road in Boston.

New Facility for Skating Club of Boston

Assisted Charter Realty & Development in 2014 with City of Portland permitting needed to change the use of a restaurant to a Dunkin Donuts, with a drive-through window.

Permitting for Coffee Shop

Representation of the Town of Westwood (MA) in connection with the redevelopment of Islington Center, Westwood, Massachusetts.

Redevelopment of Islington Center, Westwood (MA)

Represented abutting landowners in 2015-16 in successfully appealing to the Town of Eliot, Maine Board of Appeals Planning Board site plan and subdivision approvals for a 21-unit elderly housing subdivision development.

Successful Appeal of Subdivision Development