Aug 29

August 29, 2016 – The Appeals Court today issued a decision in ZONING BOARD OF APPEALS OF HANOVER vs. HOUSING APPEALS COMMITTEE.  The developer in the case had filed its application for a comprehensive permit under Chapter 40B on October 22nd , but did not include the full fee prescribed, but rather paid over only a lesser amount that it considered to be “reasonable.”  The ZBA informed the developer that its application was incomplete and would not be accepted for filing until the board received the required fee.  The developer later paid the full fee; but the Town in the meantime had qualified for a “safe harbor” under 760 Code Mass. Regs. § 56.03(1)(b). The Appeals Court rejected the developer’s argument that the date of the original filing of the application, not the date on which the prescribed fee was paid, was determinative for determining the availability of the “safe harbor.”   Continue reading »

Aug 26

August 25, 2016 – The SJC today announced its decision in Smith v. City of Westfield ruling that a city playground had not been sufficiently dedicated to invoke the protection of Article 97 of the Amendments to the Massachusetts Constitution.  The Court cited Mahajan v. Department of Environmental Protection, 464 Mass. 604 at 615:  “The critical question to be answered is not whether the use of the land incidentally serves purposes consistent with art. 97, or whether the land displays some attributes of art. 97 land, but whether the land was taken for those purposes [emphasis in original], or subsequent to the taking was designated for those purposes [emphasis supplied] in a manner sufficient to invoke the protection of art. 97.”  Continue reading »

Aug 17

Be sure to mark your calendars for two great CLE opportunities coming up in September. Click on the links below for program details and registration:
September 15-17MMLA Annual Meeting and Conference – South Yarmouth
September 23 – “Opening the Books on the New Public Records Law”
record picture– Hogan Center, Holy Cross College, Worcesterrecord picture 2

Aug 17

MMLA Member Joe Cook from Northampton notified us of an interpretation of the Attorney General relating to “pre-engineered buildings.”  He writes:

G.L. c. 149, Section 44 E allows a simpler RFP format procurement of modular buildings when compared to the ordinary c. 149 design/bid/build regime typically used for traditional  on-site building construction.  The application of the modular RFP format to pre-engineered metal buildings such as Butler Buildings and Star Buildings, which are largely manufactured in a factory and only assembled on site, has been a question in Northampton and perhaps in your city or town.

We have the official word from the Attorney General’s Office:

 “Effective for Requests for Proposals for Design or Construction Services issued after October 1, 2016, the Attorney General’s Office will not consider a “pre-engineered” building, including metal buildings such as Butler and Star buildings, to be governed by the Modular Building Law, M.G.L. c. 149, sec. 44E(4).  Pre-engineered buildings should be procured through the regular procurement process outlined in M.G.L. c. 149, sec. 44A-J.  If you have any questions, please contact Assistant Attorney General Deborah Anderson at 617-963-2371 or Deborah.Anderson@state.ma.us.”

Aug 12

An important decision of the Appeals Court appears to be the first Open Meeting Law case under the new law from an appellate court.  Congratulations to MMLA member Thomas Mullen, Esq., Lynnfield Town Counsel, on successfully defending the Town against an open meeting law violation. In Three Registered Voters vs.  Board of Selectmen of Lynnfield [Docket 15-P-936], released August 22nd, the Court addressed the level of detail required for the OML notice.  Continue reading »

Aug 09

Coming Soon!!   The 2016 MMLA Annual Conference, Cape Cod Massachusetts

Red Jacket Beach Resort

Red Jacket Beach Resort

September 15th through 17th – Red Jacket Beach Resort, South Yarmouth.  Visit “Upcoming Events” for details, prices, program summary. Register now!

Aug 08

The “Act to Modernize Municipal Finance and Government” was signed today by Gov. Charlie Baker, joined by Lt. Governor Karyn Polito, Secretary of Administration and Finance Kristen Lepore, Lawrence Mayor Dan Rivera, Worcester City Manager Ed Augustus and others.  DOR’s Division of Local Services has made available a “Section by Section Summary of Final Bill”.  Click on the following link to see the full listing of sections:  Municipal Modernization Act – Section-by-Section

Aug 06
Henry Luthin & Deirdre Roney

Henry Luthin & Deirdre Roney

At MMLA’s Annual Seminar and Awards Luncheon at the Publick House in Sturbridge on Thursday, August 4th, MMLA’s Executive Board bestowed the 2016 President’s Award upon State Ethics Commission General Counsel Deirdre Roney.  For the last eight years following her service to the Commonwealth as an Assistant Attorney General, Ms. Roney has served as General Counsel for the Commission.  MMLA President Henry Luthin cited her “common sense approach to the legal situations often faced by municipal attorneys.” She has made herself generously available to city and town attorneys to discuss their ethical concerns and conflict of interest issues faced by our municipal clients. President Henry Luthin noted that she has always “taken her knowledge, wisdom, and compassion” the extra mile to be helpful to municipal attorneys across the state, in person or by phone.  The President’s Award is given annually to someone recognized as making a difference in the practice of municipal law.  Our Association is honored to bestow this year’s award on her.

Henry Luthin & Tom Urbelis

Henry Luthin & Tom Urbelis

MMLA’s Executive Board bestowed on former MMLA President Thomas J. Urbelis the Association’s 2016 Robert W. Ritchie Special Achievement Award in recognition of Tom’s extraordinary contributions to MMLA, its members, and the practice of municipal law for his work on MMLA Amicus Committee.  Over the past few years, under Tom’s leadership, the Amicus Committee has been the voice of our Association in our appellate courts on important issues of municipal law.   MMLA President Henry Luthin echoed the gratitude of our whole Association for his special achievements as leader of the Amicus Committee, from which this year he has stepped down.  He personally authored many of MMLA’s amicus briefs in SJC appeals.  President Henry Luthin commented on how Tom has been “a mentor to many” of us.  We are proud to honor Tom for these special achievements.

See Photo Gallery for pictures of the 2016 Annual Awards Luncheon & Half Day Seminar

Jul 16

Massachusetts Municipal Lawyers Association is pleased to announce that its “Municipal Law Quarterly” is now publicly available on its website, www.massmunilaw.org.  The Quarterly contains articles about updates in municipal law in the Commonwealth, practice tips, and analyses of issues facing cities and towns and impacting municipal practice.  On the MMLA Home Page, click on the menu tab “Quarterly Journal,” to access the current and past issues of the Quarterly.  MMLA invites you to log on and enjoy the articles.

MMLA expresses its sustained gratitude to Municipal Law Quarterly Editorial Board:

Stacey G. Bloom, Editor-in-Chief
Jordan L. Shapiro, Editor Emeritus
Angela D. Atchue, Managing Editor
Carol Haijar McGravey
Timothy J. Harrington
Peter L. Mello

Jul 11

This year’s MMLA August half-day Seminar will take place on Thursday, August 4th at The Publick House in Sturbridge.

The seminar topic will be –  “A Year in Municipal Government and Finance.”  Co-Chairs are Mark Cerel and Kathleen Colleary.  The program will begin with an overview and then proceed chronologically, addressing typical operational and budgeting issues as they typically arise, depending upon form of local municipal government.  In addition to the budget process, annual town meeting practice and procedure, as well as city equivalents, will be addressed.  We also plan to include a case study of a typical building project, from planning and study through development and construction, from the standpoint of local authorizing legislation.  Click here for a full outline of the topics that will be covered:

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