Creating Thriving Communities Through Land Use And Real Estate Law

$3,000,000 Payment Means Truro’s Kline House Can Stay

Remember the Kline house in Truro?  Near the Edward Hopper house? The one constructed under permits that were issued because the conversion of an existing single-family home into a “habitable studio” and construction a new 8,000+ square foot summer home, situated 200 feet away from location of the preexisting structure, was considered an “alteration” by the Town’s Building Commissioner?  Remember the appeal by neighbors that ended in a Land Court summary judgment decision that the Town was wrong?  And the further appeal that followed that decision?  And that the Town then ordered the Building Commissioner to withdraw the building permits and issued a tear-down order for the vacant-but-already-constructed house? A decision which the homeowner appealed back to Land Court?

Well, it looks like the nine-year battle might finally be over.  The house is under new ownership, and according to a recent news article, the new owners and the Selectmen have reached a settlement to allow the house to stand – a pricey settlement. Tom and Kit Dennis, the new owners, will pay $3,000,000 to the Town, the tear-down order will be rescinded, and an occupancy permit will be issued for the structure.  The fine represents the maximum daily fine for violations of the zoning bylaw ($468,000) and an additional penalty of $2,532,000, which the homeowners will pay over 10 years.

Despite the large payment to the Town, multiple Selectmen and residents expressed strong reservations about the deal, particularly that it gives the impression that, with enough money, the zoning regulations can be ignored at will.  Others talked about the need to improve the zoning bylaw so that such issues do not arise again.  However, it is likely that all parties will be glad to move on from this long-standing and highly-contentious fight.