Cases

Real Estate – Residential

The Zoning Board Allows Location Change for Non-Conforming Garage Structure

Real Estate Practice

Situation

A young professional couple bought a home in Weston, MA that had a preexisting non-conforming garage. The couple had moved to the suburbs during the pandemic and had plans to update the exterior. The property was challenging as the house was 15 feet below the road with a steep driveway with protected wetlands behind the house.

The couple wanted to move their non-conforming garage structure to another non-conforming area on their property which represented the only option for moving the garage. To move the structure, the couple appeared before of the town zoning board for approval. The board directed the couple to secure professional counsel and recommended real estate attorney Peter Covo as their initial appeal to the zoning board had to be continued to allow for necessary revisions.

Action

For Peter Covo, research and sequencing was at the forefront of this case. When observing the property with his clients, it was established there was only one area of the property, another non-conforming area, to move or rebuild the existing non-conforming garage structure.

Due to the layout of the property, the first step was to have the septic system checked to ensure it passed inspection, which it did. Next, the slope of the driveway had to be addressed. Through Covo’s research he determined that a previous owner of the home had fallen on the driveway during an icy winter and broke his hip. The owners had also hit the garage when driving down the driveway during an icy winter.
Renovating the driveway’s slope was part of the couple’s plans in addition to moving the garage.

Attorney Covo is experienced with presenting to the zoning board and focused building the case leveraging fact patterns as similar to this situation as possible. Through research, he identified past situations where an existing non-conforming structure had been approved to move to another non-conforming area. He referenced these land court cases to the Zoning Board to show precedence.

As Covo researched and prepared the case to be presented to the board, the couple effectively secured support from their neighbors. The neighbors played an important role in front of the zoning board. Individuals appeared before the board and wrote passionate letters on behalf of the couple to move forward with changing the driveway and moving the non-conforming structure.

Outcome

Covo successfully presented the case for the relocation and the change to the driveway. The zoning board approved the requests including moving the structure to the proposed location. With prudent counsel and guidance from Covo, the clients have a safer driveway and a two-bay garage along with neighbors who support the improvements to their neighborhood.