Areas of Practice

Across the spectrum of environmental law, we offer advice and representation with practical, results-oriented lawyering in the following practice areas...
Category: Areas of Practice

By existing state law, called the Conservation Commission Act, all 351 Massachusetts municipalities have created Conservation Commissions. These volunteer local boards have considerable land management, environmental education, and policy formulation roles. The state Wetlands Protection Act charges them with administering and enforcing that permit program, since 1972.

Using their additional Home Rule power, conferred by the Home Rule amendment to the Massachusetts Constitution, about 190 of those 351 municipalities have enacted local bylaws and ordinances giving these same Conservation Commissions added powers to regulate activities in and near wetlands and related water resources including flood-prone areas. These Wetland Protection Bylaws or Ordinances are the prime example of using municipal legal authority for environmental protection.
Many communities have other local legislation (typically contained in General Bylaws and General Ordinances enacted using Home Rule) dealing with underground tanks storing petroleum and chemicals, industrial disclosures about chemical use, landfill and incinerator operations, public and private water supplies, sedimentation and erosion control, air pollution and noise, and environmental impact studies with must be prepared for local government projects and permits.
Mr. McGregor at the start of his private practice Superior Court and Supreme Judicial Court, upholding the original Dennis wetlands protection bylaw against Home Rule and Regulatory Taking challenges. This is the precedent-setting case, known around the nation for establishing the legality of local environmental legislation stricter than state statutes, and in particular local wetlands protection.  Lovequist v. Conservation Commission of the Town of Dennis.  
Boards of health in Massachusetts have a form of Home Rule power, under traditional common law principles going back to the Massachusetts Bay Colony, to adopt health regulations and to abate public nuisances.  In addition, modern statutes augment this basic authority. In many communities, these local boards have adopted regulations or what are termed standing orders on such subjects as septic systems and sewage treatment, underground storage tanks, landfills and incinerators, and cleanup of contaminated land.
Most land use control in Massachusetts, then, is vested in municipal government, and not in regional governments such as counties.  Nevertheless, there are examples of regional land use control such as the Cape Cod Commission implementing regional growth policies and reviews for Cape Cod, the Martha’s Vineyard Commission reviewing development of regional impact and regional importance on that island and the Town of Nantucket, serving as the County of Nantucket, too.
In this landscape of municipal environmental law, our attorneys have been recognized as among the most experienced and practical, providing their clients professional, prompt and cost-effective legal help. For this and his contributions to the field of Home Rule law, Mr. McGregor has been honored by the Massachusetts Municipal Lawyers Association (MMLA). He was the recipient of their first Robert W. Ritchie Award.
We regularly contribute opinions and court briefs on important issues of the Home Rule power.

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