Mackie Shea O'Brien, PC is a boutique environmental law firm. We concentrate our practice on environmental and land use law and related litigation. Our firm has been a leader in this field for more than 30 years, allowing us to provide our clients focused and timely legal representation.

What distinguishes Mackie Shea O’Brien, PC is our delivery of client service in a cost-effective, efficient manner. Our professional experience and industry knowledge allow us to provide high quality representation and value-added service to all clients. We develop personalized approaches to meet our clients’ needs. Our shareholders average more than 30 years of experience in solving complex environmental and land use problems and our depth and concentration of experience helps clients achieve business success.

Mackie Shea O’Brien, PC has been recognized as a leader in environmental law year after year in numerous publications. The firm has been ranked Tier 1 for both Environmental Law and Environmental Litigation in the Boston metropolitan area in each edition of the U.S. News – Best Lawyers “Best Law Firms” publication. The firm and its attorneys are also recognized by Best Lawyers®, the definitive referral guide for the legal profession, and by Chambers USA, publishers of America’s Leading Lawyers for Business. Chambers USA has referred to the firm as a “respected boutique” and noted that clients “applaud the team’s efficient service and ability to provide cost-effective advice.” In 2014, Chambers quoted sources as reporting that Mackie Shea O'Brien is a "strong choice for matters pertaining to solid and hazardous waste" and is “well regarded in the dispute arena including in appeals of permits and cleanup costs.“ The Bar Register of Preeminent Lawyers, published by Martindale-Hubbell, has also recognized the firm for achieving the highest level of legal ability and adherence to the professional standards of conduct, ethics, reliability and diligence.

REPRESENTATIVE MATTERS

Mackie Shea O'Brien, PC represents many leaders in the environmental industries and real estate development community. Our significant experience in project permitting resulted in Chambers USA's recent recognition of the firm's "strong relationships with federal and state regulators," which we draw upon to be "a force in licensing and enforcement defense." We also represent a wide range of clients – from individuals to national companies – in environmental and land use litigation before administrative agencies and in state and federal trial and appellate courts. Additionally, we provide services in business and real estate transactions.

We are pleased to provide the following representative matters:

Development

  • Solid Waste Siting: Obtained site assignments for solid waste landfill expansions, transfer stations and recycling facilities.
  • Water Supply: Negotiated an Administrative Consent Order with MassDEP for a public water supplier to provide a temporary source of potable water and install new deep bedrock wells.
  • Residential Subdivision: Conducted litigation, negotiation and permitting for a national builder of a 200-lot hotly-contested high end subdivision, involving wetlands, planning board, conservation restriction, and historic preservation issues.
  • Environmental Review: Spearheaded the preparation of an Environmental Impact Report for a New England Village Community incorporating a mix of retail, commercial, and residential development with complex wetlands, endangered species, and Smart Growth issues.
  • Remediation: Represented City in oversight of power company’s remediation, capping, closure, and construction of soccer fields on city-owned former coal ash landfill that had eroded into a public surface water supply.
  • Marinas: Obtained all local, state and federal permits to expand an existing private marina in Marshfield, and to build a new 54-slip marina in Plymouth.
  • Waterfront: Secured land and water permits for use of the Charles River, launching ramps and a maintenance garage for a popular Boston amphibious tour company.
  • Chapter 40B Housing: Successfully negotiated through multi-party mediation a settlement of appeals from approvals under the wetlands protection and affordable housing laws for a project with single family homes and condominiums.
  • Wetlands: Secured local, state and federal wetland approvals for new college athletic fields on a 33-acre former farm, and established a nationwide precedent for the transformation of prior converted croplands under the federal Clean Water Act.
  • Coastal Zone: Obtained approvals of coir envelopes, beach nourishment, fencing and plantings to protect an eroding coastal bank, which threatens to topple five multi-million dollar homes into Massachusetts Bay.
  • Wildlife: Obtained Conservation and Management Permits under the Massachusetts Endangered Species Act for solar arrays, residential subdivisions, and Chapter 40B projects.
  • Conservation Restrictions: Negotiated complex conservation restrictions with local and state agencies to protect in perpetuity endangered species habitat, drinking water supplies, wetlands, archeological and historical resources, and open space.
  • Cluster Subdivision: Obtained groundwater discharge permit for a private wastewater treatment facility servicing a 42-lot, high-end subdivision.
  • Tourism: Obtained water and land permits for amphibious WWII tour vehicles and river ramps in Boston and Cambridge.

Zoning and Land Use

  • Recycling: Obtained zoning special permits from Cities of Cambridge and Somerville for two separate recycling facilities.
  • Landfill Closure: Secured special permits from planning board and zoning board of appeals for landfill closure project involving flood plain alteration and fill placement.
  • Landfill Operations: Successfully defended against citizen group’s request for local zoning enforcement seeking to close city-owned solid waste landfill.
  • Wind Energy: Defended client against and negotiated settlement of appeals of special permits for wind turbines.
  • Biomass: Representing client in litigation challenging building permit issuance.

Renewable Energy and Recycling

  • Wind Turbine Siting: Representing developers of wind energy projects in siting disputes.
  • Solar Siting: Negotiated a Conservation and Management Permit for two megawatt solar array.
  • Biomass: Representing developer in state permitting of 35 megawatt biomass power plant.
  • Landfill Gas: Negotiated agreements on behalf of landfill owners for conversion of landfill gas into energy.
  • Recycling: Completed all permitting, siting and start up of an innovative award winning Danish recycling company’s inaugural United States facility.
  • Aerobic Digestion: Assisted developer in permitting and financing of two separate aerobic digestion facilities; one at an existing solid waste landfill and another at a publicly owned treatment works.
  • Anaerobic Digestion: Negotiated organics feedstock supply agreement for client’s Canadian anaerobic digestion facility.
  • Solar Development: Assisted in preparation of proposal for 2 megawatt solar array including site lease, easements and power purchase agreement.
  • Composting: Negotiated site lease and operating agreement for composting operation on existing solid waste landfill.

Litigation

  • Wastewater NPDES Appeal: Appealed EPA NPDES permit for municipal wastewater facility to the Environmental Appeals Board and negotiated interim discharge limits and a schedule for assessment, design and construction of upgrades.
  • Unlawful Local Action: Successful litigation resulting in a $3.2 million judgment after trial against a municipality that unlawfully stopped a coal ash structural fill project.
  • Chapter 21E Claims: Defended former property owners and manufacturing facilities against claims for contamination of properties, both in pre-suit negotiations and in litigation.
  • Solid Waste Permits: Obtained superior court judgment dismissing appeal of regional refuse district’s MassDEP permits for continued development of landfill.
  • Wetlands Bylaw: Successfully defended in superior court abutter’s appeal of Order of Conditions under local wetlands bylaw.
  • EPA Enforcement: Defended property owners in federal court trial of Clean Water Act enforcement case and negotiated wetland restoration and mitigation plan.
  • Cost Recovery: Recovery from the U.S. Department of Defense of 60 percent of the costs to assess contamination of an upland and river system at a site contaminated by mercury and lead from the manufacture of munitions since World War I.
  • Superfund: Obtained voluntary dismissal by plaintiffs in federal district court of private party Superfund and state law cost recovery claims against hazardous waste transporter.
  • State Wetlands Act: Successfully defended administrative appeal and obtained Final Order of Conditions approving affordable housing condo project in a coastal community.
  • Oil Spill Cleanup: Defended municipality in cost recovery action involving fuel oil spill at school property, resulting in Appeals Court decision denying attorneys’ fees to plaintiff.
  • Insurance Recoveries: Obtained recoveries of clean-up costs and other damages resulting from oil spills in the basements of two residential properties and a museum.
  • Citizens Suits: Successfully defended marina, scrap metal, and asphalt production clients against citizen suit claims by environmental advocacy groups alleging violations of EPA’s Stormwater NPDES program under the Clean Water Act.
  • Air Plan Approvals: Successfully defended multiple adjudicatory appeals of client’s air plan approval for 35 megawatt biomass power plant.
  • Wetland Approvals: Successfully defended two abutter adjudicatory appeals of wetland approvals for a multi-million dollar home constructed on the shore of Buzzard's Bay.
  • Asbestos: Represented general contractor in mediation of a claim for cleanup of an asbestos-contaminated soil pile and in negotiations with the Attorney General on civil penalties.

Transactional

  • Environmental Due Diligence: Performed environmental due diligence and hazardous waste facility permit transfer for more than 50 licensed hazardous waste facilities located in 30 states.
  • Clean Up Contracts: Negotiated a federal Superfund site clean up contract and transportation and disposal agreements for radioactive waste site in New Jersey.
  • Bid Protests: Successfully defended against bid protest before Attorney General of municipal award to our client of a $5M remediation contract.
  • Brownfields: Negotiated Covenant Not to Sue and Purchase and Sale Agreement for developer’s acquisition of former state hospital brownfields site.
  • Property Transfers: Assisted buyers and sellers of contaminated properties with understanding of environmental conditions and regulatory status and negotiated appropriate agreements to allocate responsibilities.
  • Climate Change: Negotiated agreement for sale of carbon offsets on Chicago Climate Exchange by public owner of landfill gas destruction facility.
  • Remediation Agreement: Negotiated on behalf of buyer a purchase and sale agreement and environmental remediation agreement requiring seller of industrial property to perform cleanup in timely manner or risk losing portion of purchase price.
  • Mergers and Acquisitions: Negotiated a national solid waste company’s divestiture of several waste handling facilities.
  • Financing: Negotiated and closed $7.5 million MassDevelopment financing of recycling facility.

Enforcement Defense

  • Clean Water Act: Negotiated a settlement and a new permit in consolidated appeals of a town’s groundwater discharge permit for its publicly owned wastewater treatment plant, involving novel issues of nutrient loading impacts on a coastal estuary.
  • Clean Air Act: Negotiated a Consent Decree with the US EPA resolving a potential Clean Air Act penalty of tens of millions of dollars, by using a Supplemental Environmental Project through which the client rebuilt and added odor control measures to its inner city waste handling facility.
  • Clean Water Act: Negotiated multiple Consent Decrees settling citizen group enforcement actions alleging violations of NPDES program.
  • Wastewater: Negotiated an Administrative Consent Order with MassDEP for the largest private wastewater treatment facility in Massachusetts, which services office, retail, restaurant and residential uses, requiring the major overhaul of the collection and treatment system, a multi-year schedule, water conservation measures, and a Supplemental Environmental Project.
  • Affordable Housing: Negotiated an Administrative Consent Order to allow construction by a non-profit of housing for homeless families in and near wetlands.
  • Clean Air Act: Negotiated an Administrative Consent Order for a service station owner for improper vehicle inspections and for improper management of hazardous materials.
  • Solid Waste: Resolved an appeal of a MassDEP Unilateral Administrative Order by execution of a Consent Order that allows for a substantial Supplemental Environmental Project and no corrective actions at the facility.
  • Water Supply: Negotiated a Settlement Agreement and Final Judgment with the Attorney General’s Office allowing continued use of a water supply well and eventual replacement with a new well in compliance with the water supply regulations.

Miscellaneous

  • Hearing Officer: Served as Hearing Officer to local boards of health in site assignment hearings for solid waste landfills, transfer stations, and processing facilities.

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