Home THOMAS F. WILLIAMS, Individually and as Trustee of the River Realty Trust v. THE NORWELL BOARD OF APPEALS and LOIS S. BARBOUR, PHILIP Y. BROWN, MICHAEL KIERNAN, THOMAS P. HARRISON, and DAVID TURNER, as they are Members of the Board of Appeals of the Town of Norwell, and WILLIAM MCCAULEY, MAURA A. & GREGORY T. LAUREAU and RICHARD & DEBORAH THORNTON

MISC 10-419885

January 11, 2013


Cutler, J.


The central issue in this case is whether the Plaintiff’s lot has sufficient “frontage” to qualify the lot for the so-called “separate lot” protections contained in the first sentence of G.L. c. 40A, § 6, ¶ 4. Plaintiff Thomas F. Williams, Trustee of the River Realty Trust, owns a 2.076 acre parcel of land in the Town of Norwell, identified by the Norwell Assessors as Lot 62. The Plaintiff appeals under G.L. c. 40A, § 17 from the December 21, 2009 decision of the Defendant Norwell Zoning Board of Appeals which overturned the issuance of a building permit for the construction of a single-family dwelling on Lot 62. The Zoning Board of Appeals concluded that the building permit was issued prematurely because the Planning Board had not yet made a frontage adequacy determination, as required by the Norwell Zoning By-law. Williams claims that the Zoning Board of Appeals’ decision is incorrect as a matter of law because Lot 62 is protected under the fourth paragraph of G.L. c. 40A, § 6 from application of current Zoning By-law requirements, including the requirement that private way frontage is subject to an adequacy determination by the Planning Board. The Plaintiff argues that the Zoning Board of Appeals incorrectly found that the subject lot is not so protected, and also acted arbitrarily and capriciously in deferring to the Planning Board.

The trial in this matter was conducted on July 6, 2011. [Note 1] Three (3) witnesses testified: the Plaintiff, the Norwell Building Inspector, and the Plaintiff’s title expert, Robert Moriarty, Esq. The Defendants presented no witnesses. The Plaintiff, the Defendant ZBA, and Defendants William McCauley and Maura Laureau stipulated to a list of seventeen (17) facts. A total of eight (8) exhibits were entered into evidence, including five (5) agreed upon exhibits. [Note 2] Following the trial and the receipt of the trial transcripts, Plaintiff and Pro Se Defendant Gregory T. Laureau each submitted post-trial briefs on September 1, 2011.

On January 11, 2013, a Decision was entered in this case, concluding that, because the Plaintiff had failed to prove that Lot 62 qualifies for separate lot protection under § 6, ¶ 4, the Defendant Zoning Board of Appeals did not exceed its authority when it decided that Plaintiff’s Lot is subject to the current frontage requirements of the Norwell Zoning By-law, and consequently overturned the Building Inspector’s action in issuing the building permit for the subject Lot on the ground that it should not have issued without a determination of street adequacy from the Planning Board.

Accordingly, it is ORDERED and ADJUDGED that the Plaintiff’s Complaint is hereby DISMISSED.

By the court (Cutler, J.)


[Note 1] Neither the ZBA, nor Pro Se Defendants Gregory T. Laureau, Richard Thornton, and Deborah Thornton, appeared at trial. Pro Se Defendant Maura A. Laureau appeared at trial, but did not present any evidence or question any witnesses.

[Note 2] Exhibit 6 consists of a loose-leaf binder containing 506 “Bates Stamped” pages of largely undifferentiated and untitled documents, without a table of contents or index - all purportedly related to various title examinations made by, or reviewed by, the Plaintiff’s expert witness. Some of the documents are marked as subparts of Exhibit 6 (6(a) through 6(f)). Defendants agreed to allow the entirety of Exhibit 6 to be entered into evidence, subject to a reservation of their objections as to approximately 103 pages contained in Exhibit 6 on relevancy grounds. However, none of the objected to documents was referred to, either at trial or in either of the parties’ post-trial briefs, and I do not consider them for purposes of this Decision.