Without a doubt, many of our fellow developers have already read about and rejoiced over the recent ruling from the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court (SJC) that essentially prevents neighbors of development projects from suing land-use decisions unless they can prove harm. But we want to again revisit why this is so important, not just for developers, but for everyone participating in the real estate market in Massachusetts.
We all know that there is a housing shortage in the state, especially in Boston. Simple economics tells us that because demand is high and the housing stock is low, housing prices are high (both for rentals and home-buying). Therefore, in order for housing prices to come down, we need to increase supply. Developers everywhere are trying to do just that, but there are many hurdles along the way that prevent developers from increasing the housing stock at the rate it is needed. One such hurdle can come in the form of lawsuits from neighbors, which can easily delay a project for a year or more. So, the SJC ruling in favor of the development outlined in Murchison vs. Sherborn sets an important precedent that neighbors need to be able to prove harm in order to sue land-use decisions. Read more about the details and effects of this case here.