Lawson & Weitzen, LLP won an important decision before the Supreme Judicial Court, upholding a Land Court judgment which upheld our clients’ claim to an ancient right of way to their land-locked parcel overlooking Cape Cod Bay in Truro, Massachusetts. The surrounding property owners claimed that, since 1899 when the right of way was first created, the subdivision and development of the neighboring properties worked to extinguish the right of way by the doctrine of estoppel. Following two trials, both the Land Court and the Supreme Judicial Court upheld the validity and continued vitality of the right of way. Although the Land Court imposed limitations on the width and slope of the driveway which the clients need to construct over the right of way, the Supreme Judicial Court vacated the restriction because it prevented compliance with local zoning and subdivision regulations. The case cleared a major obstacle to clients’ 30 year goal of building a home on their land and represents the first time the Massachusetts courts have squarely addressed the question of when surrounding development may operate to extinguish an ancient right of way.
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In an important decision from the Supreme Judicial Court, Lawson & Weitzen, LLP represented the Town of Saugus against a challenge to a sewer access fee from a number of developers. The developers contended that the charge was an unlawful tax and not a lawful fee. Although the Superior Court and the Appeals Court sided with the developers, the Supreme Judicial Court reversed the judgment and found in favor of the Town in all respects. The decision saved the Town from having to make refunds of almost $1.5 million dollars. The decision is also of great importance to a number of cities and towns throughout the Commonwealth who are using similar charges in their water and sewer improvement programs.
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