‘New Kids on the Block’ member in legal battle over land on his block – Boston 25 News

ESSEX, Mass. – A unique battle takes place on the North Shore, and it involves a member of Boston’s New Kids on the Block.

The state’s largest land trust is suing singer and home improvement show host Jonathan Knight, saying he is trying to develop the land he owns in a way that violates land restrictions.

But Knight retaliates. He recently showed Boston 25 News anchor and investigative reporter Kerry Kavanaugh the land in question.

The dispute, which has been going on for years, concerns a barn, a structure still under construction on six acres of land in Essex. The land is managed under a ‘conservation restriction’, a set of rules to protect and preserve it.

“I like the idea of ​​land conservation. I like what trustees do. But sometimes it’s a little too much,’ said Knight, who, when he’s not performing or hosting his home improvement show, is on his Kings Court farm tending to his horses, goats and chickens.

Knight owns the land and his friend Scott Harmon manages it. The retention restriction, meanwhile, is managed by The Trustees of Reservations, Massachusetts’ premier nonprofit preservation and conservation organization, through TTOR website.

Essex land was originally a 100 acre farm, which was divided. But the owners must still retain its agricultural qualities.

Knight says the dispute started when he asked to make a “simple” gesture.

“Originally all I was asking was to move the house off the main road to somewhere a little quieter,” he told Kavanaugh.

Now, nearly six years later, the trustees are suing him.

According to Knight, the original argument centered on the meaning and intent of the phrase in the retention restriction “substantially in the same place”.

“What is substantially the same place?” he asked.

Knight says he wanted to move the house 120 feet away from a noisy road, but the administrators wouldn’t let him.

He eventually moved the house across the road to a property that is not subject to the conversation restriction. Knight asserts that he then had the right to replace the structure he had removed.

“I sat in my kitchen with the trustees and my lawyer, and we discussed building a barn that would be converted into a house because in restriction he only talks about structures. It does not talk about their use,” he said. “They said it would be a simple process. It would just be a vote in the board, and they don’t think it would be that bad. This meeting never took place. Then they come back to me and say, ‘We don’t trust you. You’re going to rent it to Airbnb and all that crazy nonsense.

In his lawsuit, the trustees claim that Knight and Harmon knew the rules and still persisted in a “development campaign” that goes against the restrictions.

Knight says he was well aware of the restrictions and knew what he was getting into. But he claims trustees always change the rules.

“So for the past six years we’ve been negotiating with them and it’s getting nowhere. And then they push the goal post somewhere else and it just keeps going. Nothing is resolved,” he said.

“It’s just this big non-profit versus small landlords.”

In an emailed statement, the organization said:

Trustees have protected natural resources and managed some of the state’s most distinctive and special places for 130 years. Trustees hold hundreds of conservation restrictions across the state, which are established and authorized by the Commonwealth to preserve open spaces forever.

In the case of Bothways Farm’s conservation restriction, the trustees are required to maintain the agricultural and scenic value of the land as specified in the conservation restriction which we have operated for 46 years. Although the property was purchased knowing that certain restrictions were in place, such as a ban on constructing a new or expanded residential building that exceeds 25% of the size of the original residence, the landowners repeatedly attempted of breaching the RC and twice commenced construction under false pretences that required the trustees to issue a cease and desist letter. We appreciate the owners love for the property and have worked diligently over the past six years to maintain an open line of communication with them, however it is the legal responsibility of the trustees to protect the land as set out in the restriction of conservation. In addition, we apply the rights and obligations of owners of all properties subject to this specific retention restriction in the same manner, in accordance with the plain language of the retention restriction.

While we view legal action as a last resort and always hope that we can reach an amicable settlement, we will not make exceptions contrary to our responsibilities to protect the lands we have been in charge of for nearly a half-century. The administrators are confident in his case and look forward to the continued stewardship of this fine property in perpetuity.

“We tried to find compromises, but they don’t like our compromises,” said Scott Harmon, Knight’s friend who manages the land. “They want to change the retention restriction so they have more control than they have now.”

Harmon and Knight claim they want to play by the rules. But the rules are changing, and they seem to be different for neighbors who are subject to the same restrictions.

“There are five properties all under the same restriction. When I asked about why it is permitted to cross the street under the same restriction, they just kept quiet and they won’t tell me,” Knight said. “All the things I want to do here is just common sense.”

Both Knight and Harmon said they hope for an amicable resolution soon.

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