With 2013 coming to an end, it’s time to take a look back at the year that was. Each year brings new developments in real estate, environmental and construction law, and 2013 was certainly no exception. Here’s our pick for the top five stories of 2013:
1. Supreme Court Ruling a Victory for Developers’ Fifth Amendment Property Rights: The U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling in Koontz v. St. Johns River Water Management District was a major victory for property rights’ advocates, particularly in land use permitting. In a 5-4 decision, the Court ruled that “extortionate demands” by permitting authorities violate the Fifth Amendment.
2. MassDEP Proposes Changes to Its Cleanup Program: In a pair of posts here and here, Adam Last of Corporate Environmental Advisors highlighted MassDEP’s proposed amendments to the Massachusetts Contingency Plan, which governs the assessment and remediation of oil and hazardous materials releases.
3. Brokers Beware: SJC Issues Ruling in Closely-Followed DeWolfe v. Hingham Centre Case: The SJC’s ruling in DeWolfe was a lesson to brokers not to rely on seemingly exculpatory language in a Purchase & Sale Agreement to avoid liability for factual errors in listing materials.
4. Towns Can’t Ban Marijuana Shops; Zoning Moratoria OK: The Attorney General ruled that cities and towns may not use zoning regulations to ban marijuana dispensaries, but they may enact temporary moratoria.
5. Appeals Court Vacates $56 Million Big Dig Arbitration Award: The Appeals Court’s decision in Massachusetts Highway Dept. v. Perini Corp. was a reminder that parties using arbitration provisions should specify in their agreement that the arbitrator is to resolve not only the substantive dispute between the parties but also the question of whether the dispute itself is subject to arbitration.
For other stories on the year that was, we invite you peruse our archives in the right-hand column. From all of us at On Solid Ground and Mirick O’Connell, thanks for a great 2013, and Happy New Year!