Environmental and Land Use
The Firm has far-ranging and widely recognized experience in environmental and land use law and litigation. We represent businesses seeking to secure approvals for their projects, and advise them on the full range of regulations governing the use and development of land and water resources. We represent municipalities and their constituent boards in judicial and administrative proceedings and counsel them on effective environmental planning and permitting. We also assist environmental and sustainability non-profit and other citizen organizations, as well as individuals, in promoting a safe and healthy environment.
A representative sampling of our environmental and land use work includes the following:
- The Firm advises many municipalities concerned about the impact of large existing or proposed energy facilities such as pipelines and electric transmission lines, generating stations and the like. We have negotiated host community agreements that imposed conditions on construction and/or operation to preserve environmental, land use and other community values and to fairly recompense our clients for the effects of such facilities. In other cases, we have helped our clients successfully prevent construction of such facilities or, in some cases, continued operation where reasonable protection of the environment and human health could not be assured.
- For many years we represented the City of Pittsfield which had its prime industrial property contaminated by PCBs. The Firm represented the City in a successful complex mediation which took several years and produced a complex settlement in the form of a Consent Decree which was approved in the Fall of 2000 by a Federal District Court, worth in excess of a quarter of a billion dollars as calculated at the time (and now an amount far in excess of that). The Firm also helped devise and implement an innovative “Brownfields” redevelopment plan for the Pittsfield Economic Development Authority (“PEDA”) created to administer a portion of the settlement.
- The Firm represented a Massachusetts town in a nine year battle against a large new landfill that threatened public and private water supplies, rare animal species and open space. As a result of the Firm’s work, the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection denied a permit for this project.
- The Firm counseled a Berkshire town which opposed the route for a proposed high pressure natural gas pipeline through sensitive areas. Through multi-forum administrative and judicial litigation, the Firm convinced the proponent to reroute the pipeline and avoid the town altogether, while making significant contributions to a local conservation fund.
- The Firm represented the developer of residential housing on a former brownfields site which has garnered widespread acclaim for the sustainable features of the new construction.
- The Firm represented a community which took contaminated property for nonpayment of taxes and sought clean-up from the responsible parties so the property could be redeveloped for beneficial uses. The Firm employed a multi-pronged strategy to achieve a negotiated settlement which was quicker and less expensive and thus helped the community achieve its goals years sooner than would otherwise have been the case.
- The Firm has helped non-profit organizations successfully preserve extensive parcels of land on the island of Martha’s Vineyard, many with significant natural or other features, and has designed innovative financing and legal strategies to implement these actions. The Firm engaged in multi-forum litigation on behalf of one of these organizations, successfully spearheading opposition to a proposed luxury golf course which would have destroyed the last remaining contiguous woodlands in a designated “District of Critical Planning Concern.”
- The Firm won a precedent setting victory from the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court which affirmed the right of a local Board of Health to determine whether a proposed solid waste facility would threaten the local environment.
- The Firm has drafted numerous bylaws and local regulations designed to provide local governments with the appropriate tools to regulate growth and protect the local environment.