Home JAMES ALVAREZ, as trustee of the Alvarez Realty Trust v. ROBERT GULLA, JO ANN JACKSON, HELENE SHAW-KWASIE, JOHN FEENER, LINDA CHARPENTIER, BARRY GRADWOHL and WILLIAM COOK as members of the Gloucester Conservation Commission, and TINA SNIDER as trustee of the Tina Snider Revocable Trust.

MISC 17-000464

September 18, 2017

Essex, ss.



In this action, by G.L. c. 249, §4 writ of certiorari, plaintiff James Alvarez, as trustee of the Alvarez Realty Trust (the entity in which his home is titled), seeks review and reversal of an Order of Conditions granted his neighbor, defendant Tina Snider as trustee of the Tina Snider Revocable Trust (the entity in which her home is titled), by the Gloucester Conservation Commission. That Order of Conditions allows Ms. Snider to expand her existing oceanfront home and construct a new two-story garage with a second-floor living space, an asphalt driveway leading to the garage, a rainwater collection system, landscaping, and a septic system and leaching field, in a Coastal Resource Area. Mr. Alvarez contends that that work will adversely affect his abutting oceanfront home.

Whatever the merits of Mr. Alvarez's claims, this court has no subject matter jurisdiction to hear them. Its certiorari jurisdiction is limited to matters involving "any right, title or interest in land, or arises under or involves the subdivision control law, the zoning act or municipal zoning, or subdivision ordinances, by-laws or regulations." G.L. c. 249, §4. These claims are none of those. Instead, they are based on asserted violations of the Gloucester Wetlands Ordinance — a non-zoning ordinance — and are thus outside the Land Court's subject matter jurisdiction. See Sayle v. Nantucket Conservation Comm'n, 12 LCR 438 , 439, 2004 WL 2384376 at *1-*2 (Mass. Land Ct. 2004) (Lombardi, J.) and cases cited therein; Janes Properties Ltd. P'ship v. Groton Bd. of Health, 2014 WL 7466694 at *1-*6 (Mass. Land Ct. 2014) (Piper, J.) (citing Sayle and other authorities).

The Essex Superior Court does have jurisdiction over such claims. Accordingly, pursuant to G.L. c. 185, §15, [Note 1] the session clerk is directed to transfer it, in its entirety, to that court.



[Note 1] Under the provisions of G.L. c. 185, §15, "[t]he land court may, upon application of either party or upon its own motion, transfer to the superior court any action in which no right, title or interest to land is involved and which is not set forth in section one [of G.L. c. 185] as being within the exclusive original jurisdiction of the land court."