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Small-lot appeal heading to SJC

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A local family and a developer are asking the state’s highest court to reconsider a lower court decision that bars the owners of two small adjacent lots from building a house on their second property. Bonnie and James Chansky, along with developer Ernest D. Rogers of Lexington, filed the appeal with the Supreme Judicial Court earlier this month. The dispute arose after the Chanskys sought to sell their second lot, which has a garage on it, to Rogers, who planned to replace the garage with a single-family house. The city approved a building permit for the project in 2009, but a neighbor’s challenge led to the permit being revoked by the state Land Court in 2011. Last month, the state Appeals Court upheld the Land Court ruling. In their Supreme Judicial Court filing, Rogers and the Chanskys said the lower court’s decision was incorrect, and would have far-reaching impacts. Three land-use lawyers also filed a brief asking the state’s high court to reverse the decision. The Supreme Judicial Court doesn’t have to take up the case and rarely does in similar situations, said Hugh Starkey, a lawyer for Maureen and Ronald Mauri, who live next door to the Chanskys and opposed their plan to build a house on the adjacent lot. There are about 400 small lots around the city that could be affected by the Appeals Court decision. The city’s Zoning Board of Appeals recently decided to revoke building permits for houses being built on two undersized lots off Goddard Street.

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