Practice Areas: General Municipal, Litigation, Land Use
Attorney Nicole Costanzo joined the firm in 2014 as an Associate. Attorney Costanzo is an experienced litigator and frequently represents clients in state and federal courts and before administrative boards. Her practice focuses on all facets of general municipal law, including town meetings, local legislation and regulations, conflict of interest, public records and Open Meeting Law.
Attorney Costanzo has extensive experience in landlord-tenant matters, land use, marijuana regulation and health code litigation, including the defense of permit appeals, the prosecution of enforcement actions and eviction proceedings. Attorney Costanzo provides formal trainings and seminars to clients on a wide range of topics and also counsels clients on the development and implementation of policy, drafting by-laws and regulations, contact review, and consultation on day-to-day operations.
Prior to joining the firm, Attorney Costanzo served as a judicial intern to the Honorable Chief Mark L. Wolf, U.S. District Court Judge for the District of Massachusetts and worked with the Fair Labor Division of the Massachusetts Attorney General’s Office.
- Cynthia Machado and Joseph Machado v. Town of Somerset, Bristol Superior Court, C.A. No. 1973CV00593. We are pleased to report that the New Bedford Superior Court (Buckley, J.) recently issued an Order and Judgment, dismissing the appeal of the decision of the Somerset Board of Health to uphold the Health Agent’s denial of the plaintiffs’ permit application for the keeping of a horse on their residential property. In particular, the Court held that the minimum roaming acreage requirement for the keeping of equine in the Board of Health’s Animal Regulations was valid, enforceable, and reasonably related to public health and safety. Notably, the Court disagreed with the plaintiffs’ argument that they could include all land not encumbered by structures, as well as a vacant lot which they did not own, to meet the minimum acreage requirement. Accordingly, the Court held that the Board of Health did not act arbitrary, capriciously or abuse its discretion in denying the plaintiffs’ permit where the roaming area was not marked in any definitive manner to delineate sufficient space designated for roaming, as opposed to areas used for walkways, driveways and the like. In addition, the Court refused to entertain newly raised due process claims where the plaintiffs appealed the Health Agent’s denial to the Board of Health but requested that no hearing on their appeal be scheduled.
- Kathleen Craig v. Board of Selectmen Town of Seekonk, Taunton District Court Docket No. 1931CV0422. The District Court (McGovern, J.) issued a Decision upholding the Board of Selectmen’s dangerous dog finding but rescinding the Board’s euthanization order. The Court found it significant that since the initiation of this matter the dog, which had attacked smaller dogs on three separate occasions while off-leash, had been successfully restrained by a leash and without further incident. The Court reasoned that dog’s owner has learned the gravity of consequences if she does not keep her dog leased and therefore will ensure that dog is leashed in the future. Accordingly, the Court ordered, as an alternative to euthanasia, that the owner construct an enclosed kennel sufficient in height and structural substance to contain the dog and that the dog remained leashed at all times when not in the confines of owner’s residence.
- Town of Brookfield, by and through its Zoning Enforcement Officer v. Edward Juda and Joyce A. Juda, Central Housing Court, Worcester Division, Docket No. 19-CV-727. Following a hearing on contempt, the Housing Court (Horan, J.) issued its Findings and Order on Contempt, ordering the payment of attorney’s fees and costs, as well mandating that the violations of the Town’s Zoning Bylaw be remedied. In particular, we brought an enforcement action on the Town’s behalf relative to violations of the Town of Brookfield’s Zoning Bylaw which prohibits the open-air storage of junk and salvage materials. The Housing Court (Horan, J.), after a hearing, issued a preliminary injunction in the Town’s favor, mandating that the defendants remove junk and salvage materials and cease any further open-air storage of the same. We filed a Complaint for Civil Contempt for noncompliance and the defendants argued that the Bylaw permits open-air storage of materials so long as said items are screened from any adjacent residence or public way. We persuaded the Court that while the open air storage of items classifieds as junk, trash and debris (such as items left out for garbage pick-up) is permitted under the Zoning Bylaw where properly screened, the open air storage of items which rise to the level junk and salvage materials is expressly prohibited. The Court agreed that the distinction is essential to the intent and purpose of the Bylaws, awarding the Town its costs and issuing continuing fines, payable to the Town for each day on non-compliance.
- Town of Westport, by and through its Board of Health v. Richard J. Medeiros, et al., Bristol Superior Court, C.A. No. 1673CV01035. After receiving reports of animal cruelty and unsafe conditions on a property used for tenant farming in Westport, we filed a three-count complaint: to enforce the Building Commissioner’s orders with respect to unlawful and unsafe structures on the property; to enforce the Board of Health’s nuisance orders relative to the significant amounts of junk, trash and debris causing rodent and insect infestation thereto; and to allow the Animal Inspector access to inspect the property and animals thereon. Following multiple hearings and negotiations, we successfully obtained numerous Agreements for Judgment with defendant tenant farmers which, in part, required them to remove their animals and structures from the property and also, prohibited them from keeping any livestock or animals within the Town of Westport without prior written authorization from the Town of Westport Board of Selectmen and Board of Health. We also negotiated an Agreement for Judgment with the property owner whereby the owner agreed to remove any and all structures and debris that was left behind from the tenant farmers. The property is now in a sanitary condition and no animals will be permitted thereon except with Town authorization.
- Town of Warren, by and through its Board of Health v. Erik W. Laine, et al, Central Housing Court, Worcester Division, Docket No. 18H85CV000851. After a trial on contempt, the Court awarded the Town of Warren $3,679.23, in addition to $5,070.62, payable by Deutsche Bank National Trust Company, for attorneys’ fees and costs in this enforcement action to cure various violations of the State Sanitary Code. The defendant property owners refused to respond to numerous orders from the Town of Warren’s Board of Health to bring a dilapidated and unsafe structure into compliance. Accordingly, the Town sought relief from the Court by requesting the appointment of receiver to remediate the property. Upon notice of the litigation, the mortgage company, Deutsche Bank National Trust Company, agreed to abate the violations within a specific timeframe in lieu of the appointment of receiver. The Town filed a Complaint for Contempt when the mortgage company failed to comply and successful obtained the appointment of a receiver, as well as a significant award of attorneys’ fees and costs.
- Brenda Haryslack v. Town of Groveland Zoning Board of Appeals, Essex Superior Court, C.A. No. 2013CV00733, Appeals Court, Docket No. 2018-P-1263. The Appeals Court upheld an earlier Superior Court judgment that the Town’s Zoning Board of Appeals acted appropriately in denying a special permit application for a proposed retail specialty candy and gift shop as such use was not a “customary” home occupation in the Town of Groveland under the Town’s Zoning Bylaws. The Appeals Court found that the Zoning Board of Appeals properly denied the plaintiff’s application where it proposed a large parking area adjacent to the plaintiff’s residence that the plaintiff intended to pave which would vary the residential character of the home and, anticipated approximately forty customers per day which would increase traffic on an already heavily traveled way to the detriment of the residential neighborhood. Significantly, the Appeals Court rejected the plaintiff’s argument that because there are other residential properties in the area that have been allowed to conduct retail operations, such operations are “customary” within the meaning of the Town’s Zoning Bylaws. Rather, the Court credited the testimony of the Town’s Zoning Enforcement Officer and gave deference to the Zoning Board of Appeals’ opinion that the proposed home occupation use was retail in nature and not customarily found in the Town of Groveland’s residential neighborhoods abutting or near the subject property.
- 320 Fall River, LLC v. Bd. of Assessors of Seekonk, 93 Mass. App. Ct.. 1104 (2018). The plaintiffs appealed the Superior Court’s dismissal for failure to exhaust administrative remedies of their complaint seeking injunctive relief and a declaratory judgment that the Town’s tax assessment and valuation of their recreational land which they alleged constituted illegal taxation. The plaintiffs argued that the Superior Court had jurisdiction because the claims fell within the so-called Bettigole exception. In Bettigole v. Assessors of Springfield, 343 Mass. 223 (1961), the Supreme Judicial Court held that if administrative remedy is “seriously inadequate”, such as established by alleging a pervasively unlawful assessment scheme in the context of property taxation, a party may bypass the administrative process and proceed directly to the Superior Court. The Appeals Court found that unlike in Bettigole, the plaintiffs’ complaint did not allege a comprehensive, fundamentally flawed assessment scheme affecting the valuation and taxation of all properties in the Town but rather, consisted of individualized claims that the Town had incorrectly assessed the plaintiffs’ property value. Accordingly, the plaintiffs had not established that the exclusive and available administrative remedy provided by G.L. c.61B, §14 was “seriously inadequate” to entitle them to extraordinary relief. This case thus supports the proposition that plaintiffs cannot simply leap frog the comprehensive statutory process set forth in G.L. c.61B and ignore the stringent deadlines set therein to secure abatement of allegedly overpaid and improperly assessed taxes for past fiscal years.
- Massachusetts Bar Association
- New York Bar Association
- New Jersey Bar Association
- Massachusetts Bar
- U.S. District Court (Mass.)
- New York Bar
Northeastern University School of Law
Juris Doctor, 2014
Bachelor of Arts, 2010