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Wetlands Enforcement Reinstates

Updated: Sep 13, 2021

The Massachusetts Supreme Court has ruled that an enforcement action under the Wetlands Protection Act can be brought decades after the violation has occurred.

The lower court had ruled the law prevented a conservation commission from bringing an enforcement action more than three years after the first transfer of ownership in the property after the violation occurred.

The supreme court said the law requires a commission to commence an enforcement action within three years of the recording of the deed (or date of death) pursuant to which the new owner acquires the property. After that period, the commission may not commence an action against that owner for pre existing violations.

WHY THIS IS IMPORTANT… Once a property changes hands the law permits a conservation commission to commence an action against the subsequent owner as long as it does so within three years the recording of the deed or date of death by which title was acquired. This effectively means that old wetlands violations can be reinstated for enforcement every time a new owner acquires a property.

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