Posted by: Patricia Salkin | March 19, 2015

MA Land Court Holds the Storage of Vehicles and Equipment is a Permitted Accessory Use to the Principal Use of Noncommercial Forestry

Sean Youmell owned two vacant parcels of land in Southampton that were conveyed to him by his father: one at 57 Fomer Road and the other at 67 Fomer Road. The Youmells openly stored a variety of trucks, vehicles, trailers, and construction and other equipment on the 57 Fomer Road property; however, nothing was stored on the 67 Fomer Road property. The Town of Southampton, by and through its Zoning Enforcement Officer, brought this action for a judgment ordering the Youmells to clear the two parcels, on the grounds that open storage of such trucks, vehicles, trailers, and equipment is not permitted in the Rural–Residential Zoning District in which the parcels lie. The Town sought a judgment ordering the removal of all the vehicles, equipment, and other materials stored on the 57 Fomer Property, on the grounds that their storage there constitutes either the use of the Property for “construction industry and supplies” or “open storage of materials and equipment,” both of which uses are not permitted in the R–R Zoning District in which the 57 Fomer Property lies. The defendant argued that the principal use of the 57 Fomer Property is for “noncommercial forestry,” which is permitted in the R–R Zoning District.

A “principal use” is defined in the Zoning By–Laws as the main or primary purpose for which a structure or lot is designed, arranged, or intended, or for which it may be used, occupied, or maintained. An accessory use was defined as a use incidental and subordinate to the principal use of a structure or lot, or a use not the principal use which is located on the same lot as the principal structure. In this case, the primary use of these items is for the cutting of trees and the cording of wood on the 57 Fomer Property. The Court found also that the storage of those items on the 57 Fomer Property is both subordinate and reasonably related to that primary use. Each of these items is used in connection with the permitted noncommercial forestry, and the storage of them on the Property constitutes an accessory use. John J. Youmell, Jr. has a sufficient interest in the 57 Fomer Property to justify his being subject to zoning enforcement. John J. Youmell, Jr. owned the 57 Fomer Property from 1986 to 2002, when he deeded it to his son, Sean Youmell, for the nominal consideration of one dollar. He has stored items on the 57 Fomer Property since 1986; since 2005 he has been assessed annual taxes on personal property located on the Property. Most importantly, John J. Youmell, Jr. held himself out to Mr. Oleksak and the Town of Southampton as the owner of the 57 Fomer Property throughout the enforcement process initiated by the Town. Accordingly, that the storage of the following equipment, materials, and vehicles on the 57 Fomer Property is a permitted accessory use to the principal use of noncommercial forestry.

Town of Southampton v Youmell, 2015 WL 461527 (MA Land Ct. 2/3/2015)

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