Joel B. Bard


Phone: 617.556.0007
Practice Areas: General Municipal, Land Use, Environmental, Litigation

Attorney Joel Bard is an authority in municipal law specializing in land use and environmental law, including zoning, subdivision control, historic preservation, wetlands protection, affordable housing, and telecommunications facilities siting. He is an experienced litigator and frequently represents clients in state and federal courts and before administrative boards, primarily on land use and environmental issues, including defense against constitutional claims of regulatory takings. In addition, he has broad municipal law experience serving as town counsel to numerous Massachusetts towns.

Attorney Bard has extensive relevant practical land use experience as well. Prior to joining our firm, he was an attorney with the Central Transportation Planning Staff for five years, and General Counsel and Deputy/Acting Director of the Metropolitan Area Planning Council (MAPC) for seven years. Attorney Bard is also actively involved in civic and community affairs in Cambridge and serves as Chairman of the Citizens Advisory Committee for the New Charles River Basin project.

Representative Matters

  • Burnham v. Town of Hadley, 58 Mass. App. Ct. 479 (2003). Established that a Zoning Board of Appeals which makes its decision within the statutory 100-day deadline may issue its decision after that deadline if it is within fourteen days of the 100-day deadline; also, court deferred to the Town’s discretion in determining that a home occupation is not an allowable accessory use.
  • Mieczkowski v. Board of Registrars of Hadley, 53 Mass. App. Ct. 62 (2001). Successfully argued in favor of the Town’s interpretation of its Special Act allowing recall of elected officials.
  • FIC Homes of Blackstone v. Conservation Commission of Blackstone, 41 Mass. App. Ct. 681, rev. den. 424 Mass. 1104 (1996). Defended the defendant Conservation Commission against a challenge to its decision denying a wetlands order of conditions and successfully argued that the denial of the landowner’s right to build on one lot in a subdivision was not a regulatory taking under the U.S. Constitution.
  • T.D.J. Corporation v. Conservation Commission of North Andover, 36 Mass. App. Ct. 124, rev.den., 418 Mass. 1103 (1994). Established that the Conservation Commission had the authority under a town by-law to regulate activities in a wetlands buffer zone and to protect wetlands interests in addition to those in state law.

Prior Experience
Metropolitan Area Planning Council, Boston, MA
General Counsel and Deputy/Acting Director (1980-1987)
Provided legal advice, land-use planning, legislative and related services to regional planning agency and 101 member communities in greater Boston area.

Central Transportation Planning Staff, Boston, MA
Attorney (1975-1980)
Provided legal counsel to public, interagency staff working with state and regional transportation and planning agencies, providing services to the Boston region’s Metropolitan Planning Organization, a committee of six agencies involved in Boston-area transportation planning (EOTC, MHD, MBTA, Massport MBTA Advisory Board, MAPC).

Memberships & Affiliations

  • Massachusetts Bar Association
  • Chairman, Citizens Advisory Committee, New Charles River Basin project
  • Central Artery Bridge Design Review Committee (1990-1992)
  • Cambridge Citywide Growth Management Advisory Committee
  • Cambridge/ Harvard/ Agassiz Working Group
  • Member, Agassiz Neighborhood Council, Cambridge; Chairman (1982-1987)

Bar & Court Admissions

  • Massachusetts Bar
  • U.S. District Court (Mass.)
  • U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit
  • Supreme Court of the United States

Boston University Law School
Juris Doctor, 1973

Yale University
Bachelor of Arts, 1970

Author, “Municipal Campaign Finance Issues,” chapter in Massachusetts Election Administration, Campaign Finance and Lobbying Law, Massachusetts Continuing Legal Education, February 2000

Speaking Engagements

  • Annual Guest Lecturer, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Department of Urban Studies and Planning, 1995-Present
  • Frequently conducts training sessions and lectures on land use law and practices for the Massachusetts Citizen Planner Training Collaborative
  • “Local Zoning and Land Use Issues,” Massachusetts Continuing Legal Education, 2003
  • “Commercial Real Estate – Subdivision and Zoning,” Massachusetts Continuing Legal Education, 2002-2003
  • “Local Roads Workshop,” Franklin Regional Council of Governments, March 2001
  • “Zoning and Land Use Planning,” Massachusetts Conveyancers Association, November 2000
  • “How to Control Sprawl,” Massachusetts Municipal Association, January 2000, June 2000
  • “Municipal Growth Controls”, Boston Bar Association, December 1998
  • “Regulatory Takings: How Far is Too Far,” Boston Bar Association, May 1997
  • “Drafting Adult Use Zoning Restrictions,” Massachusetts Association of Planning Directors, April 1997
  • “Telecommunications Act of 1996,” Massachusetts Municipal Association, January 1997
  • “When do Land Use Regulations Go Too Far,” National Association of Industrial and Office Properties, November 1995