Exploiting Dead Streets

A unique zoning law and carefully kept historical records in Massachusetts have created a loophole that is being exploited by developers.
August 5, 2003, 11am PDT | Abhijeet Chavan | @legalaidtech
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The 'approval not required' process, a unique zoning law in Massachusetts, contains many loopholes and "is routinely exploited" by developers by allowing them to build along old streets, or cartpaths that have never been officially discontinued, without approvals or conditions from the local planning board. Many of these old cartpaths are barely recognizable, overgrown, and in some cases, go right through buildings. "Because an 'approval not required' designation means quick and painless construction, it is sought by developers who scour old maps and local historical records, hunting for paper streets....There has been no definitive statewide study, but planners say 'approval not required' development easily constitutes 30 percent of all development--and much more in rural areas. In many cases, developers need only show a map or two to prove that a street exists, in subdivision plans filed as long ago as 1920....A bill is currently before the state Legislature that would eliminate 'approval not required' and other aspects of the Massachusetts statewide zoning law."

Thanks to Connie Chung

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Published on Sunday, August 3, 2003 in The Boston Globe
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