Aug 14

At MMLA’s Annual Half-Day Seminar and Awards Luncheon at the Publick House in Sturbridge on August 10th, the Association recognized with gratitude the services of immediate past president Henry Luthin, First Assistant Corporation Counsel for Boston.  MMLA President Angela Atchue presented the award on behalf of the Association. Continue reading »

Aug 12

Keywords:   Practice, Civil, Motion to dismiss, Summary judgment. Superior Court. Rules of the Superior Court. Administrative Law, Primary jurisdiction, Exhaustion of remedies. Unjust Enrichment. Contract, Collective bargaining contract, Unjust enrichment, Promissory estoppel. Public Employment, Collective bargaining. Police, Collective bargaining. Massachusetts Wage Act. Civil Service, Collective bargaining, Municipal finance. Municipal Corporations, Collective bargaining, Municipal finance. Continue reading »

Jul 26

MMLA is pleased to announce that its 2017 Annual Conference program has been finalized. It is scheduled to take place at the Cape Codder Resort in Hyannis from Thursday, September 14th through Saturday, September 16th. We are delighted to report that the Keynote address this year will be delivered at the Friday luncheon by Lon Povich, Chief Legal Counsel for Governor Baker. Continue reading »

Jul 20

It is expected that the Governor will shortly sign the compromise marijuana bill.  The conference report (H. 3818) has been enacted by both the House and Senate and sent to the Governor for consideration today. The Governor has 10 days to sign the bill, allow the bill to become law without his signature, send the bill back with amendments or veto the measure. As such, the bill could become law as late as July 30, a day before the first major deadline set forth in the compromise proposal. August 1 is the deadline to appoint the 25-member Cannibis Advisory Board.

Here are links to the text of H.3818, and a brief overview prepared by David Lakeman (Mass Municipal Association):

Text of Bill:  H.3818

Bill Overview: Overview of H.3818

Jul 20

Keywords: Courthouse. Zoning, Nonconforming use or structure, Governmental use. Governmental Immunity. County, Municipal zoning by-laws. Municipal Corporations, Governmental immunity, By-laws and ordinances.

The Appeals Court today issued its decision in Graham Gund v. Planning Board of Cambridge.  The court ruled that even though the structure would not have conformed to the zoning if it had not been a government building (and therefore, not subject to the zoning), the fact that it “conformed” because it was not in violation, being a government building, means that it was conforming prior to the change in zoning. which provided. “The sole issue on appeal is whether the court house, when it loses its governmental immunity by transfer to the developer, will constitute a preexisting nonconforming structure under G. L. c. 40A, § 6, and § 8.22.2(a) of the relevant zoning ordinance such that redevelopment may be approved by special permit.[3] A judge of the Land Court concluded on summary judgment in a well-reasoned decision that c. 40A, § 6, and § 8.22.2(a) of the zoning ordinance govern the developer’s efforts to redevelop the property, and we affirm”

For the full text of the case click on: Graham Gund v. Planning Board of Cambridge

Jul 18

Keywords: Courthouse. Zoning, Nonconforming use or structure, Governmental use. Governmental Immunity. County, Municipal zoning by-laws. Municipal Corporations, Governmental immunity, By-laws and ordinances. 

In an important employment case dealing with medical marijuana, the SJC issued on July 17th its decision in Barbuto v Advantage Sales in which it stated “The issue on appeal is whether a qualifying patient who has been terminated from her employment because she tested positive for marijuana as a result of her lawful medical use of marijuana has a civil remedy against her employer.  We conclude that the plaintiff may seek a remedy through claims of handicap discrimination in violation of G. L. c. 151B, and therefore reverse the dismissal of the plaintiff’s discrimination claims.  We also conclude that there is no implied statutory private cause of action under the medical marijuana act and that the plaintiff has failed to state a claim for wrongful termination in violation of public policy, and therefore affirm the dismissal of those claims.”  For the full text of the decision, click on: Cristina Barbuto v Advantage Sales and Marketing, LLC

Jul 18
Keywords: Municipal Corporations, Conservation commission, Bylaws and ordinances. Wetlands Protection Act.
In Cave Corp. v. Conservation Commission of Alttleboro the Appeals Court on July 14 found ” no error of law in the conclusion by the judge that the imposition by the commission of condition number twenty-nine, prohibiting disturbance of land within the wetlands protection zone, was supported by substantial evidence and was not arbitrary or capricious.” See also for discussion of effect of Commission failing to hold hearing timely.  For the full text of the decision, click on: Cave Corporation v Conservation Commission of Attleboro
Jul 06

Lisa Soronen, Executive Director of the State & Local Legal Center, with whom IMLA and MMLA often partner in municipal law advocacy, has authored a very informative series of articles on Supreme Court cases relevant to local governments from the term ending last week.  SLLC has graciously invited us to share this useful summary.   Click here access the full text of this series of articles.

Lisa Soronen
Executive Director
State & Local Legal Center
444 North Capitol Street, N.W., Suite 515
Washington, D.C. 20001
Phone: (202) 434-4845
Fax: (202) 737-1069

Jun 26

The SJC today issued its decision in George v. National Water Main Cleaning Company in which it held that “that, under Massachusetts law, statutory prejudgment interest pursuant to G. L. c. 231, § 6H, shall be added by the clerk of court to the amount of lost wages and other benefits awarded as damages pursuant to G. L. c. 149, § 150, but shall not be added to the additional amount of the award arising from the trebling of those damages as liquidated damages.” For the full text of the case, click on the following link: George v. National Water Main Cleaning Company

Additional Legal News from IMLA:   Continue reading »

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.)

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