Thank you for sharing!

Your article was successfully shared with the contacts you provided.
Before Torruella, Lipez and Howard, Circuit Judges.

Similar to other states, Massachusetts provides tax relief to landowners of agricultural, horticultural or forest land. When such land is converted to other uses, the Commonwealth requires landowners to compensate their respective municipalities. The compensation may be take the form of, for example, payment of a conveyance tax when the land is sold, or payment of roll- back taxes if the land otherwise ceases to qualify for preferential tax treatment. In addition to these tax features, Massachusetts law also provides that once a landowner decides to sell the land for other than agricultural, horticultural, or as relevant here, forest uses, the municipality is entitled to a right of first refusal (“ROFR”). Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 61. This ROFR provides the municipality with a 120-day period in which to meet a bona fide offer to purchase the land. The municipality thus has the right but not the obligation to preserve salutary land uses by purchasing land that the landowner desires to sell, and the landowner receives the compensation that a willing buyer in an arm’s-length transaction is prepared to pay.

In this case, plaintiff-appellant Marilyn Kunelius accepted a bona fide offer to purchase a parcel of land, which included acreage that had been certified under Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 61 as forest land. Pursuant to the statute, the Town of Stow chose to exercise its ROFR. In addition, the Town assigned this right, as also permitted by the statute, to the Trust for Public Land (“TPL” or “Trust”), a nonprofit conservation organization. From the beginning, it was clear that a number of circumstances had to align in a precise constellation for the Trust and the Town to consummate the transaction. Despite potential difficulties with the transaction, the Town and TPL nevertheless went through with the assignment of the ROFR. The Trust’s optimistic hopes for obtaining private philanthropy, state grants, and local zoning relief, however, were not fulfilled. As a result, the Town and the Trust failed to complete the transaction. In the interim, Kunelius’s previous buyer chose to develop other land.

Reprints & Licensing
Mentioned in a Law.com story?

License our industry-leading legal content to extend your thought leadership and build your brand.

More From ALM

Premium Subscription

With this subscription you will receive unlimited access to high quality, online, on-demand premium content from well-respected faculty in the legal industry. This is perfect for attorneys licensed in multiple jurisdictions or for attorneys that have fulfilled their CLE requirement but need to access resourceful information for their practice areas.
View Now

Team Accounts

Our Team Account subscription service is for legal teams of four or more attorneys. Each attorney is granted unlimited access to high quality, on-demand premium content from well-respected faculty in the legal industry along with administrative access to easily manage CLE for the entire team.
View Now

Bundle Subscriptions

Gain access to some of the most knowledgeable and experienced attorneys with our 2 bundle options! Our Compliance bundles are curated by CLE Counselors and include current legal topics and challenges within the industry. Our second option allows you to build your bundle and strategically select the content that pertains to your needs. Both options are priced the same.
View Now

Complex Claims & Litigation Forum 2024

February 26, 2024 - February 28, 2024
Las Vegas, NV

The conference experience aimed to help insurers and litigators Prevent, Prepare, and Prevail in complex claims cases and risks.

Learn More

Women, Influence & Power in Law UK Awards 2024

March 06, 2024
London, UK

Women, Influence & Power in Law UK Awards honors women lawyers who have made a remarkable difference in the legal profession.

Learn More

Florida Legal Awards (FLLA) 2024

April 04, 2024
Miami, FL

Daily Business Review honors attorneys and judges who have made a remarkable difference in the legal profession in Florida.

Learn More


Gill & Chamas, LLC seeks an attorney to work in their Woodbridge, NJ Office. Candidate must possess either of the following: 1-3+ year...

Apply Now ›

Trusts and Estates Associate / Estate Planning and Tax Specialist - New York

Join a Top Nassau County law firm, as a Trusts and Estates Associate, where your expertise will navigate the complexities of estate plannin...

Apply Now ›

Healthcare Transactional & Regulatory Attorney / Legal Partner in Healthcare Law Nassau County, Long Island.

Join an innovative legal force dedicated to transforming healthcare through law! My client s team, with over two decades of refined expertis...

Apply Now ›

Danaher Lagnese

Connecticut Law Tribune

Professional Announcement

View Announcement ›

Blume Forte Fried Zerres & Molinari

New Jersey Law Journal

Frederick D. Miceli has joined the firm as Of Counsel

View Announcement ›


New Jersey Law Journal

Professional Announcement

View Announcement ›