HGTV star Jonathan Knight is dealing with a bitter authorized battle over his Massachusetts farmhouse. The “Farmhouse Fixer” host and former New Kids on the Block singer was sued by a land belief in 2021. He countersued later that 12 months. A listening to in Massachusetts Land Court is scheduled for October 14, 2022, data show.
The Trustees of Reservations filed the lawsuit in opposition to King’s Court Trust, which Knight arrange because the proprietor of his Essex farm property, and Scott Harmon, the trustee of Knight’s belief, accusing them of violating conservation restrictions on the property, court docket paperwork obtained by Heavy show. Knight has been attempting to improve and transfer the single-family dwelling on his six-acre plot since 2015, based on court docket paperwork. King’s Court Trust countersued, accusing the Trustees of focusing on them whereas permitting neighbors to get away with violations of the conservation restrictions.
The property is a part of 100 acres overseen by the Trustees since 1976 generally known as Bothways Farm. The conservation restrictions bar house owners from setting up new buildings on the property not used for farm operations. The restrictions have been put in place to protect the coastal area’s agricultural and farming historical past. According to its web site, The Trustees of Reservations, “For greater than a century, The Trustees has been on the bottom in communities throughout Massachusetts, working to guard particular locations, offering loving care of our reservations, constructing artistic new packages to interact individuals, and sharing our experience with neighbors and companions throughout the state.”
The Trustees web site provides, “The centerpiece of the Trustees mission is defending locations of ecological, scenic, and historic significance. We search far and extensive to search out Massachusetts’ most doubtlessly endangered iconic landscapes and valuable cultural relics, navigate the complicated and lengthy path to deliver them below our safety, and allocate land stewardship sources and experience to take care of their integrity lengthy into the longer term.” Their mission contains preserving agriculture.
Knight’s mom, Marlene Putman, additionally lives on the property and first acquired it in 1999, based on court docket paperwork. Knight lives in a house on the property along with his husband, Harley Rodriguez.
The Trustees Say They Had ‘No Choice But to File This Enforcement Action’ After Knight Began Construction on the Home
The Trustees filed a 133-page criticism in November 2021. In the criticism, The Trustees wrote, “Although the proprietor of the land bought it with full data that the land was topic to a conservation restriction and was subsequently topic to sure clearly outlined limitations, all designed to protect the open and rural traits. of the property, he has continued for almost a decade in a growth marketing campaign that ignores the plain language of the conservation restriction.
They added, “When The Trustees have given approval for sure varieties of growth on the property, the proprietor pulls a bait and swap. On different events the opposite has requested for The Trustees’ permission and approval after a construction has already been accomplished and found by The Trustees.” They wrote:
Most just lately the proprietor has moved forward with building of a single-family dwelling on a basis that The Trustees accredited greater than 4 years in the past as a working, agricultural — i.e. non-residential — barn. As envisioned by the proprietor, the brand new home can be greater than 4,166 sq. toes, which features a completed basement and screened-in porch and would join by way of a 200 sq. foot enclosed mudroom to a 1,456 sq. foot residential storage, every of those information being a violation of the plain language of the conservation restriction. The Trustees had no selection however to file this enforcement motion.
The lawsuit states, “At varied instances all through their possession Ms. Putman and Mr. Knight have sought to develop the property in a method that’s inconsistent with the language” of the conservation restriction.”
The criticism particulars the back-and-forth between Knight and The Trustees throughout his makes an attempt to develop and renovate houses on the property. It additionally contains emails and plans as reveals. The Trustees are asking the Land Court to take away agricultural buildings they did not approve earlier than they have been constructed, together with a hen coop, backyard shed and lean-to on the aspect of a barn.
They additionally need the court docket to reove an tools shed that was denied by The Trustees and order Knight to stop and disst the development of a barn that they are saying will likely be used as a residential construction and never an agriculutral construction. They are additionally in search of attorneys’ charges and prices, accordingt to court docket paperwork.
Knight Has Countersued The Trustees
In December 2021, Harmon filed a countersuit in opposition to The Trustees on behalf of King’s Court Trust, based on court docket paperwork obtained by Heavy that may be learn right here.
Harmon advised the Gloucester Daily Times in June 2022 that neighbors have been capable of get bigger tasks began with out as many issues. “We do not begrudge the neighbors. We perceive everybody has their very own wants and so they needed to battle for their very own work as nicely,” Harmon advised the newspaper.
Knight has referred to as out The Trustees on social media. He wrote in a tweet in May 2022 directed at The Trustees’ lawyer, “Why are you shocked I’m tweeting? The group you symbolize is essentially the most tough and non clear non revenue. They have guided me and I’ve adopted, solely to be sued. Get your information straight. And cease making landowners look dangerous.”
Knight added in another tweet, “Dear Kate, @thetrustees lawyer: Happy to maneuver this to discovery section so we are able to expose all of the lies your group have given me the previous 6 years. Your massive highly effective non revenue that makes tens of millions, would not scare me!”
A standing convention listening to earlier than Land Court justice Kevin T. Smith is scheduled for October 14, 2022, at 10 a.m., based on on-line data. The listening to was scheduled in January. The two sides final met in court docket by way of video on December 15, 2021, for case administration convention, data show. During that listening to, Smith dominated that the 2 sides would want to finish the invention course of by September 30.