Jun 23

The Supreme Court of the United States today issued its decision in MURR ET AL. v. WISCONSIN ET AL. CERTIORARI TO THE COURT OF APPEALS OF WISCONSIN No. 15–214. (Argued March 20, 2017—Decided June 23, 2017).  Long awaited by municipalities throughout the country, the issues in the case afforded SCOTUS with an opportunity to revisit takings jurisprudence. The Court affirmed the “parcel as a whole” approach to a takings challenge in the context of zoning provisions triggering a “merger” of lots, and whether the application of merger provisions results in a compensable taking. Continue reading »

Jun 23

The Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD) has extended the deadline until July 14, 2017 for submitting comments on Draft Guidelines (link is external) for calculating the 40B general land area minimum.  Here is the link to the draft guidelines:


Jun 22

The Attorney General’s Division of Open Government yesterday issued proposed revisions to the Open Meeting Law Regulations (940 CMR 29.00-29.10), and is inviting comments prior to the public hearing on the proposed revisions now scheduled for August 3rd.  The text of the proposed revisions are now available on the Attorney General’s website, in both “clean” and “redline-strikeout” formats.  For the full text of the notice issued by the Attorney General, click on AG Request for Comment OML Regs

Jun 15

In a decision issued yesterday [People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, Inc. v. Department of Agricultural Resources, Docket #12207], the SJC reversed and remanded the Superior Court’s earlier judgement in favor of the Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources, in which the Superior Court upheld the Department’s redaction of portions of departmental records relating to animal health. The SJC decision stated:

This case concerns the scope of two exemptions from the statutory definition of “public records.”  Specifically, it probes whether information, such as names, addresses, telephone numbers, and other information, contained on animal health certificates in the custody of the Department of Agricultural Resources, is subject to disclosure in response to a public records request.  A Superior Court judge determined that such information is protected from disclosure under statutory exemptions G. L. c. 4, § 7, Twenty-sixth (n) and (c), implicating, respectively, public safety and privacy.  For the reasons that follow, we vacate that order and remand for further proceedings consistent with this opinion.

Noting the absence of prior cases laying out how exemptions (n) and (c) might apply to the facts of the case, the Court gave de novo review and construction of both.  Click here for the full text of the decision.


May 25

In a decision issued on Mary 23rd, the Land Court (Judge Karyn F. Sheier) upheld the decision of the Hull ZBA, which had affirmed the Building Commissioner’s order to the owner of a lawful pre-existing two-family dwelling in a single-family residential zone to cease and desist from weekly rentals.  [Lytle Trustee v. ZBA of Hull, 13 MISC 480974]  The Court held that the weekly rental was a commercial enterprise in a residential zone, and thus inconsistent with the purposes of the district. Not finding the ZBA’s decision to be “arbitrary, capricious, whimsical, or unreasonable,” the Court denied summary judgment to the Plaintiff and granted summary judgment to the ZBA.  The decision of the court offers an interesting analysis of the Town’s zoning bylaw, and the extent to which deference is appropriate to the ZBA’s interpretation of the bylaw and the ZBA’s reference to external sources to support its interpretation. Click here for the full text of the decision.

May 20

In “Opportunities” today – Town Counsel Services Town of Sudbury

(Note: “Opportunities” is a new option on this website’s home page menu bar. It will from time to time feature employment and other professional opportunities for MMLA members.)

Apr 26

MCLE 2017 Municipal Law Conference, scheduled for Wednesday, March 15th, postponed due the untimely intervention of Mother Nature, has been re-scheduled for Wednesday, May 3rd.

Click here for UPDATED Program Agenda.

Apr 17

The Association will hold its next monthly meeting on THURSDAY, May 18, 2017, at the Aegean Restaurant in Framingham.  The program was originally planned for February, but had to be postponed due to a winter storm. The program starts at 4:00 p.m., with dinner break at 6:00 p.m., followed by completion of program, ending by 9:30 p.m..   Presenters will include Kathleen Connolly, Esq. of Louison, Costello, Condon, and Pfaff, and James B. Lampke, Esq., Hull Town Counsel.  Learn effective ways to impose and collect fines!  Share your experiences too.  Special questions?- send them to MMLA before meeting.  For program details click here. Visit Upcoming Events for registration and cost information.

Apr 05

Under the direction of Program Chair Chris Petrini, an outstanding panel has been selected to make an informative presentation on From All Sides: A Multi-Dimensional Perspective on Current Issues in Public Construction at this year’s 7th Annual Public Construction Seminar.  We will also hold our annual business meeting and election of officers for the July 1, 2017-June 30, 2018 year.  This is a great program to bring others from your community who are involved in any construction projects. 

Please register via phone, email or fax in your reservation to Jim Lampke at jlampke@massmunilaw.org.  You should also be receiving via email a notice to register for this meeting from Constant Contact.  If you are not receiving notices from Constant Contact please let us know and we will put you on their email list for MMLA/Constant Contact notices. A delicious dinner buffet will be served. Thus, there is no meal selection. 

  For program details, go to Upcoming Events.

Mar 31

On March 10, MMLA presented a program at Clark University in Worcester, entitled “The New Marijuana Law—How Municipalities Can (and Should) Respond”.  The program, which was co-sponsored by the Massachusetts Municipal Association, attracted over 150 attendees, making it one of MMLA’s largest events.  Participants included municipal counsel, town administrators and managers, municipal and regional planners, and members of planning boards, ZBAs, and Boards of Health.

The MMLA program panelists included Attorney Brandon Moss; Assistant Attorney General Margaret Hurley, Director of the Municipal Law Unit; Sarah Kim and Shawn Collins, the General Counsel and Director of Policy and Legislative Affairs, respectively, in the Office of the State Treasurer; and Jeffrey Bagg, Principal Planner for the Central Massachusetts Regional Planning Commission.  The panel was moderated by MMLA Executive Board member John Goldrosen.  The panelists provided a legal overview of the statute, information on the Attorney General’s and State Treasurer’s roles, and the panelists’ perspectives on the issues to be addressed at the municipal level.  The program concluded with an extended question-and-answer period. Continue reading »

Feb 23

The Appeals Court, in Alexis D. Coren-Hall v. MBTA  (16-P-300)  decided today, ruled that the Superior Court should have granted the MBTA summary judgment due to the defective presentment of the claim.  Claim needed to be presented to MBTA “executive officer” but wasn’t.  Superior Court denied motion, finding that the executive officer had notice even though presentment was defective. For the full slip opinion, click on:  Alexis D. Coren-Hall v. MBTA.


Feb 14

The Office of the State Auditor has determined that portions of the state’s Early Voting Law imposes an unfunded mandate on local governments.  In its February 14th press release, the Auditor’s Office reported:   “Auditor Suzanne M. Bump today released a determination that certain early voting costs incurred by local clerks should be paid for by the Commonwealth. Bump’s Division of Local Mandates (DLM) conducted the review and made the determination in response to petitions from the City of Woburn and the Town of Oxford.  The early voting law certainly is to be regarded a success. It did, however, mandate new procedures for clerks. Some of these should be paid for by the state, not municipalities according to the Local Mandate Law.”  Click here for the full text of the Auditor’s announcement.

Feb 08

The dinner meeting and program – Imposing & Collecting Fines – which had been scheduled for Thursday, February 9th, at the Aegean Restaurant in Framingham was cancelled due to the winter storm.  No decision has been made yet on when it will be re-scheduled. See attached cancelation Notice for details.

Upcoming programs: – The Association has two excellent programs scheduled for March and May. On March 10th there will be a half-day conference at the Hogan Center at Holy Cross College (Worcester) focusing on the impacts of the new marijuana laws (Don’t Get Caught in the Weeds);  and in April we return to Patriot Place for the annual Public Construction Law program.  Visit our Upcoming Events Calendar for the details of these two excellent programs.

Your Association is also co-sponsoring the MCLE 2017 Municipal Law Conference.  See Upcoming Events for details.

Dec 31

Happy Holidays!  The MMLA Municipal Law Quarterly, Winter 2016, is now available on this website.  This edition has  a variety of articles on the latest topics in municipal law, a summary of MMLA’s legislative priorities for 2017-2018, and a forecast of upcoming legal seminars and programs.  

Thank you for reading, contributing and advertising in the Quarterly. We look forward to partnering with more MMLA members in 2017, and find the best opportunities occur at our monthly programs, half-day seminars and annual conference. Each year MMLA members are writing quality articles, memoranda and updates on municipal law. The Quarterly is a forum in which your work is welcomed and a vehicle through which important information can be shared with colleagues and clients. Therefore, please consider contacting MMLA’s Editorial Board and letting us know of your ideas and interests for future articles and case law updates. We welcome the opportunity to collaborate with you, and expand legal coverage on the ever-changing, dynamic field of municipal law. 

Warm wishes for a healthy, peaceful and prosperous new year! 

Angela Atchue
Managing Editor
MMLA Editorial Board

Dec 19

On December 16th, the Secretary of State released its final version of regulations intended to implement the major changes in the state Public Records Law enacted by the Legislature during its last session. Chapter 121 of the Acts of 2016 made major changes to the public records statutes which until then had remained substantially unchanged for many years, rendering them very much out of sync with contemporary electronic means of records creation, transmission, use, retention, access, and disposal. Click here to view the full text of the new regulations, which go into effect on January 1st.

Substantively, the new statutory and regulatory provisions govern the process by which state agencies and municipalities respond to and process public records requests, including detailed specifications of the charges that may be imposed on the requester. MMLA and MMA will be co-sponsoring a workshop at MMA’s Annual Meeting & Trade Show on Jan. 21 on the requirements of the law and regulations, as well as best practices that cities and towns can implement to facilitate compliance with the new rules. MMLA is in the process of fashioning informational guidelines for city and town officials including best practice in complying with the revised public records statutes and regulations.

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