In the recent Memorandum and Order issued in the case T-Mobile Northeast LLC v. The Town of Barnstable, the Massachusetts District Court held that the Town of Barnstable Planning Board ("the Planning Board") had violated the Telecommunications Act of 1996 ("the TCA") when it denied T-Mobile's request for a special permit and regulatory agreement that would allow T-Mobile to install and operate wireless equipment in a church steeple for the purpose of improving local cell phone service coverage. The dispute arose after the town had issued T-Mobile a building permit and after the majority of the construction on T-Mobile's proposed site had already been completed, at which time citizens of Barnstable claimed that the proposed site fell within a geographic area of Cape Cod that is subject to heightened regulatory scrutiny. After several hearings and consideration of evidence submitted by T-Mobile, the Planning Board denied T-Mobile's request.
In a recent decision, The McLean Hospital Corporation v. Town of Lincoln & Others, the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court (SJC) held that a proposed residential program for adolescents is exempt from local zoning laws under the Dover Amendment.
The Superior Court of Massachusetts recently annulled the decision of a local zoning board that had permitted construction of an outdoor aerial adventure park pursuant to what is commonly referred to as the "Dover Amendment" - i.e., G.L. c. 40A, § 3. In Sullivan v. Heritage Plantation of Sandwich, Inc., 35 Mass. L. Rptr. 281 (2018) ("Heritage Plantation"), the Court found that the particular outdoor adventure park at issue did not have a primary goal of educational significance and did not involve a nonprofit organization using its land for educational purposes, and, therefore, could not take advantage of the significant zoning exemptions offered by the Dover Amendment.
In Drummey v. Town of Falmouth, the Massachusetts Appeals Court overturned a Superior Court ruling and held that the Town of Falmouth incorrectly failed to obtain a special use permit from the Falmouth zoning board of appeals in order to construct and install a wind turbine on town land. 87 Mass. App. Ct. 127 (2014).
In February, the Massachusetts Appeals Court clarified that the Land Court and Superior Court have exclusive jurisdiction over appeals of permits granted by cities and towns for large-scale development projects. See Skawski v. Greenfield Investors Property Dev., LLC, No. 13-P-1947 (February 27, 2015). The Court relied on G.L. c. 185, § 3A and its prior decision in Buccaneer Dev., Inc. v. Zoning Bd. of Appeals of Lenox, 83 Mass. App. Ct. 40 (2012), in rendering its decision.