This case involved a Massachusetts statutory agricultural preservation restriction (“APR”), which permitted the farm owner to build one family residence on the restricted property. The Massachusetts Department of Food and Agriculture (“DFA”) developed a written policy—never formally adopted as a regulation—to discourage residences that would significantly increase the value of the property. The policy provided that DFA would grant the owner permission to build a residence only if the owner agreed to give DFA an option to purchase the property at a pre-defined “agricultural value” significantly below the fair market value of the property. Twomey commenced suit in the Land Court challenging the DFA policy. The Land Court found that the DFA policies were inconsistent with the language of the APR and exceeded DFA’s regulatory authority. DFA appealed and the Supreme Judicial Court took direct appellate review.
NELF filed a brief in its own name supporting Twomey’s right to build a family dwelling on the property without granting the state an option to purchase at below market value. The SJC agreed with NELF’s position and invalidated the DFA policy.