• MMLA's December meeting at Stoneforge Tavern in Raynham presented a panel discussion of "Public-Private Partnerships (P3s) Developing Infrastructure in Massachusetts. From left to right: John T. ("Jack") Yunits, Barnstable County Administrator and former Mayor of Brockton; Timothy P. Murray, formerly Lt. Governor and Mayor of Worcester; John F. Mitchell, former Mayor of New Bedford; and MMLA executive board member Matthew G. Feher, of Burns & Levinson.
Municipal Law News

Appeals Court: KENNEDY vs. THE COMMONWEALTH et al

KeywordsSchool and School Committee, Regional school district, Standing to challenge validity of statute. Contract, Regional school district, Promissory estoppel. Constitutional Law, Standing, Home Rule Amendment, Special law. Municipal Corporations, Home rule. Statute, Special law. Practice, Civil, Standing, Declaratory proceeding, Motion to dismiss. Declaratory Relief.

In its decision released today in Kennedy, et al v Commonwealth, et al, the Appeals Court upheld a Superior Court denying a Home Rule challenge to an Act of the Legislature. The decision dismissed on standing and other grounds a challenge by residents, the Town of Huntington, and the Gateway Regional School District to an Act of the Legislature which allowed Worthington to withdraw from a regional school district agreement notwithstanding the terms of the regional agreement.  The Appeals Court found that there was no violation of the Home Rule Amendment.  Other claims, including impairment of contracts and the local mandates law, were similarly dismissed.  Click here for the full text of the decision


KeywordsMunicipal Corporations, By-laws and ordinances. Zoning, Validity of by-law or ordinance, Private landing area. Federal Preemption

The SJC has ruled in favor of the Town of Rockport, whose building inspector and ZBA had found that a heliport on a residential property was neither an allowed use nor a permitted  accessory use.  The landowner had argued that, based on the state’s aeronautics statutes, a municipal zoning bylaw concerning private noncommercial aircraft landing areas is subject to prior approval by the DOT Division of Aeronautics.  Here is a link to the decision:


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KeywordsContract, Municipality, Performance and breach. Municipal Corporations, Contracts. Consumer Protection Act, Trade or commerce, Unfair or deceptive act. Bankruptcy, Stay of other proceedings.Practice, Civil, Directed verdict, Amendment, New trial, Instructions to jury. Judgment,  Amendment

The Appeals Court today issued its decision in City of Beverly v Bass River Golf Management, Inc. in which it upheld a trial court verdict in favor of the City of Beverly against an operator of the municipal golf course for breach of contract.  Proceedings against another defendant were stayed pursuant to the automatic stay resulting from a bankruptcy filing.  The counterclaim against the city, which included claims under G.L. c. 93A,  was unsuccessful.  Congrats to MMLA members from the City of Beverly Law Department- City Solicitor Stephanie Williams and Assistant City Solicitor Eitan Goldberg- on this successful outcome.  Golf course management cases have been problematic for several municipalities- be forewarned.  Click here for the full text of the decision.

Deirdre Roney – Rest in Peace – December 17, 2017

From James B. Lampke, Executive Director of MMLA

Dear Colleagues, as many of you know from a prior sad email alert from the MMLA, Deirdre Roney, General Counsel to the State Ethics Commission and a great friend and guiding light to local municipal counsel, announced on Facebook, in most brave and moving prose, that she was terminally ill with breast cancer.  Many of our members reached out to her in visits, email, cards and just supportive thoughts. It is with further sadness that we let you know that Deirdre did pass away December 17th.  Many of you may have already heard this, but we were waiting for further information about arrangements before sending out another email. We know she found great comfort in that outpouring of love and friendship. A memorial service will be held this Thursday, December 28, 2017, 11:00 AM. to 1:00 PM, at the Forsyth Chapel at Forest Hills Cemetery, 95 Forest Hills Avenue, in Jamaica Plain, Boston.  [Obituary]

As noted below, the format will be storytelling, mostly with emphasis on stories no one has heard, some of which are quite funny. Participants will be offered the chance to speak, in 5-minute segments, and you are encouraged to.  There will be some moments of silence at the end to honor all those who have passed whom participants wish to remember.  There will be room for many in a beautiful chapel, and all are welcome, but we are also aware that for many this next week is one of the few times they may meet in their own families.

The family has asked that donations in Deirdre’s name be sent to  the Deirdre Roney Memorial Research Fund addressed to the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute Development Office, 10 Brookline Place, Brookline, MA 02445.    [See Obituary – reprinted from Boston Globe]

MMLA urges you to read the 3 attachments to this message [See Attachments below] which were sent out by her family.  As sad as they are, they help remind us of what an amazing woman Deirdre was.  They are very moving.  Please feel free to share this email with anyone you feel would want to know.

To our dear friend Deirdre, many thanks for being the person you were.  In your passing, as in your life, we have learned so much from you and not just about the law.  Be in peace.  To Deirdre’s family and friends, may her memory be a blessing for her family and friends.

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Superior Court Reverses AG on Open Meeting Law Violation – Hull v. Maura Healey, AG

Ruling in favor of the Town of Hull on Cross Motions for Judgment on the Pleadings in Town of Hull v Attorney General, Plymouth Superior Court No. 1583CV00161, the Superior Court In a judgment entered on December 18, 2017 reversed an Open Meeting Law violation finding by the Attorney General’s Office against the Hull Board of Selectmen.     The AG’s Office had found, among other things, a violation of the OML when the Hull Board of Selectmen, while using the correct language for the motion, failed to sufficiently identify the names of the unions and claimants which were to be discussed in the executive session.   The Town did not name them as doing so would compromise the purpose of the executive session.  The Superior Court found that the AG’s Office’s interpretation that such details were necessary was not found in the statute and in essence imposed an additional requirement not in the law.  The Court remanded the matter back to the AG’s Office for further review consistent with the opinion.  You can read the full decision by clicking on the following link:  Hull v.Healey, AG

Appeals Court: Michael Dell’Isola vs. State Board of Retirement

KeywordsRetirement. Public Employment, Forfeiture of pension. Correction Officer

“Michael Dell’Isola was a correction officer when he committed the crime of possession of cocaine.  The State Retirement Board (board) subsequently conducted a hearing and made factual findings that Dell’Isola came into possession of the cocaine only as a result of an arrangement with an inmate who had been in his custody and who at the time remained in the custody of the Middlesex County sheriff’s office.  This case thus requires us to consider whether, pursuant to G. L. c. 32, § 15(4), Dell’Isola’s conviction requires forfeiture of his retirement allowance. General Laws c. 32, § 15(4), inserted by St. 1987, c. 697, § 47, provides that “[i]n no event shall any member [of the State employees’ retirement system] after final conviction of a criminal offense involving violation of the laws applicable to his office or position, be entitled to receive a retirement allowance.”  Because how Dell’Isola came into possession of the cocaine was factually linked to his position as a correction officer, we hold that his criminal offense falls within the purview of § 15(4) and he is ineligible to receive a retirement allowance.”  For the full text of the decision, click on the following link:  MICHAEL DELL’ISOLA vs. STATE RETIREMENT BOARD

Appeals Court: State Board of Retirement vs. Brian O’Hare

Keywords:  Retirement. Public Employment, Forfeiture of pension, Police. Police, Regulations. Police Officer. State Police. 

“Brian O’Hare was a sergeant with the Massachusetts State police when he committed the Federal crime of using the internet to entice a person under eighteen to engage in unlawful sexual activity, a charge to which he subsequently pleaded guilty.  This case presents the question whether the State Board of Retirement (board) correctly ordered forfeiture of O’Hare’s retirement allowance under G. L. c. 32, § 15(4). . . .  General Laws c. 32, § 15(4), inserted by St. 1987, c. 697, § 47, provides that ‘[i]n no event shall any member [of the State employees’ retirement system] after final conviction of a criminal offense involving violation of the laws applicable to his office or position, be entitled to receive a retirement allowance.’  Because we hold that O’Hare’s actions had a direct legal link to his position with the State police, we conclude that O’Hare’s conviction required forfeiture pursuant to § 15.” – For the full text of the decision, click on the following link:   State Board of Retirement vs. Brian O’Hare

Appeals Court: Worcester Regional Retirement Board vs. Contributory Retirement Appeal Board

KeywordsContributory Retirement Appeal Board. County, Retirement board. Municipal Corporations, Retirement board, Pensions. Public Employment, Retirement, Retirement benefits. Retirement. Pension.

The Appeals Court today issued its decision in Worcester Regional Retirement Board v Contributory Retirement Appeal Board in which it affirmed a CRAB decision.  CRAB “require[ed] the WRRB to permit a former member to purchase nine additional months of creditable service. At issue is whether the WRRB is responsible for not having enrolled the employee, Brian Pierce, as of the day he became eligible for membership, or whether Pierce had an affirmative obligation to ensure that he had been enrolled as of his start date.  CRAB determined that the responsibility lay with the WRRB, not the employee; that the retirement system records should be corrected to reflect Pierce’s nine months of uncredited membership; and that Pierce should be permitted to buy back the time of which he had erroneously been deprived.  Discerning no legal error or abuse of discretion on CRAB’s part, we affirm.”  For the full text of the decision click on:  Worcester Regional Retirement Board v Contributory Retirement Appeal Board.