Northampton Residents Sue Developer Douglas Kohl to Resolve Questions of Title and Rights-of-Way

Press Release
For Immediate Release
Contact: Brad Shimel, Esq., 413-586-3480

Northampton Residents Sue Developer Douglas Kohl to Resolve Questions of Title and Rights-of-Way
Northampton, MA, March 13, 2008: A group of neighbors living near a proposed 26-unit condominium project on undeveloped land off North Street have filed a lawsuit with the Land Court in Boston challenging the developer’s ownership rights to the land on which the project is to be located. The plaintiffs are represented by Brad Shimel of Wilhelm, Shimel & King, a Northampton law firm.

The lawsuit names two companies affiliated with local developer Douglas Kohl and raises questions about ownership of the land which go back over 90 years. The lawsuit states the original owners never transferred title to a portion of the land. The disputed land seems to have been intended to become streets serving now outdated building lots. No such streets were ever built.

The developer now wants to use the alleged street to access the condominium project. The neighbors claim that any intent to create streets was abandoned long ago. Certain neighbors also allege they have been using portions of the land as their own for many years and that they have acquired legal rights to those portions of the land. One property owner previously won a similar case in the Hampshire Probate Court on that basis and acquired ownership to part of the alleged street.

The lawsuit asks the Land Court to determine the rights of both the neighbors and the developer. In the meantime, the lawsuit requests that the developer be ordered not to proceed with construction activities on the site.

“We further believe,” says Mr. Shimel, “that it would be wise for the City of Northampton to defer consideration of all matters relating to this land until the questions of title and rights-of-way can be resolved.” Douglas Kohl is scheduled to go before the Northampton Conservation Commission on March 13 to discuss vernal pool assessment protocol in the land in question. Vernal pools in the North Street environs can affect the rights of property owners within 100 feet of them. “It is possible that the court will find that other property owners should be included in this and other hearings related to this land,” Mr. Shimel says.

Questions about the lawsuit may be directed to Brad Shimel at 413-586-3480. For general information about the land in question, please visit the website of the North Street Neighborhood Association, 

Click to download the complete text of the legal complaint (PDF, 77KB)

See also:

Kohl Goes Before Conservation Commission on March 13 to Discuss Vernal Pool Assessment Protocol
Northampton Conservation Commission

Date: Thursday March 13, 2008
Time: 5:30 PM
Place: City Hall Hearing Room (use back door or main Crafts Avenue door) 2nd floor, 210 Main Street, Northampton

For more information: Bruce W. Young, Land Use and Conservation Planner

5:30 PM
Discussion with Douglas Kohl on Vernal Pool Assessment Protocol on Map 25C, Parcel 12 and 17 located at Northern Avenue and View Avenue…

Northampton Redoubt: Urban Planning, Public Policies, and Urban Ecology (1/5/08)

[Schematic of Kohl Construction’s proposed condo development:]

Above-Douglas Kohl has proposed eliminating units 27-23 and one of the three units shown in the upper left hand corner of the above schematic. Units 28-31 will be shifted further to the east reducing the size of the parking lot, and one unit will likely be added to the south end of the 18-22 bank of units. The total number likely to be proposed is now 26 units. The detention ponds as shown will also be altered, with the elimination of the rectangular pond show about center in the graphic, and the alteration of the three lower ponds as well, due to the relocation of the units…

Northampton Redoubt: Doug Kohl reduces “footprint” of subdivision proposal due to the discovery of vernal pools in the North Street area wetlands (9/13/07)

Conservation Commission Votes to Delay Vernal Pool Delineation on Kohl Property to Spring 2008 (8/23/07)

Report on Kohl’s Property by Alec MacLeod, Environmental Scientist: Indications of Vernal Pool Habitat (8/22/07)

Northampton Redoubt: Videos and photographs of a walking tour of North Street Northampton’s Mill Yard Brook and vernal pools