Municipal Law News

SJC: Joseph P. Marchese v. Boston Redevelopment Authority

Keywords: Eminent Domain. Authority for taking. Redevelopment Authority. Urban Renewal. Easement. Uniform Procurement Act. Practice. Civil. Eminent domain proceeding. Standing. Judgment on the pleading

The Supreme Judicial Court today issued its decision in  JOSEPH P. MARCHESE vs. BOSTON REDEVELOPMENT AUTHORITY,in which it held that the plaintiff, described as “merely a private party with neither a property interest nor an existing business…adversely affected” by the 2013 taking of an easement in Yawkey Way by the Boston Redevelopment Authority, lacked standing to challenge the process by which the Red Sox subsequently acquired rights in the street.

Click here for the full text of the Court’s decision.

Free U S Supreme Court Preview!

IMLA and State and Local Legal Center has alerted us to a free webinar previewing cases before the U. S. Supreme Court.

This event is free, open to anyone, and will be recorded. Two noteworthy items. First, one of our speakers is Supreme Court legend Michael Dreeben. He was the Deputy Solicitor General for years (arguing over 100 cases) and most recently participated in the Mueller investigation. Second, most years I schedule this event in the middle of October and hope and pray the Court grants interesting petitions in late September so we have something to talk about. Not this term.

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MMLA 2019 Annual Meeting and Conference Registration

This year’s Annual Meeting and Conference will be held on Thursday, September 26, 2019 and Friday September 27, 2019 at the Springfield Sheraton, 1 Monarch Place, Springfield. Information on the conference schedule, topics, speakers and other details are found on the Events page.

Registration forms for the 2019 Annual Meeting and Conference are being emailed to members via Survey Monkey. If you do not receive the email, you can register using the link on the Events page.

If you have any questions, please contact Jim Lampke, MMLA Executive Director, at 781-749-9922 or jlampke@massmunilaw.org.

August 1, 2019 Federal Communications Commission (FCC) vote to change the cable franchise fee calculation rules

MMLA Member Bill August, our expert on all matters relating to cable franchising, has provided us with his explanation of the August 1, 2019, FCC vote relating to new franchise fee rules.  Here is Bill’s explanation:

I believe some further explanation of the August 1, 2019 Federal Communications Commission (FCC) vote to change the cable franchise fee calculation rules is in order in light of the importance of the new franchise fee rules and the complexity of some aspects of these rules.   I offer what I hope are some simple explanations of the new framework (below).  As this will impact significant payments to many (not all) municipalities, it is important for municipal officials to be aware of these developments and have access to background information explaining the changes. The following is a basic explanation.

Cable companies pay ‘franchise fees’ to municipalities if required by cable license and Federal law caps franchise fees at 5% of the cable company’s Gross Annual Revenues (GAR).  In the past, most cable companies took the position in practice that only monetary payments to the municipality would count toward the 5%-of-revenues cap.  That will be history once the FCC approved new rules are released, published and become effective in the near future, as cable companies will soon be able to count both monetary and ‘in-kind benefits’ toward the statutory 5% franchise fee cap.  That’s the big picture.  Many of the details are yet to be released including which assets may and may not be counted toward the 5% cap, how the valuations of the assets will be implemented and to what extent they will be negotiable.

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WRITERS NEEDED FOR LATEST UPDATE TO MCLE-MMLA MASSACHUSETTS MUNICIPAL LAW MANUAL

WRITERS NEEDED FOR LATEST UPDATE TO MCLE-MMLA MASSACHUSETTS MUNICIPAL LAW MANUAL

[Updated 8.5.19] – MMLA, which writes for MCLE the two-volume set on Massachusetts Municipal Law, is working on the next update edition for this fall. There is still one chapter that we need an author or update authors for. This chapter can be updated based on the current text or the new authors can change the text. If you work off of an existing chapter, you will have an excellent framework for the redraft. We will provide you with a copy of the chapter in Word format which makes any editing or updating all the easier.

This is a great way to get more involved in municipal law and work on a key legal resource on municipal law. Here is the Chapter:

• Chapter 16 – Gifts and Other Charitable Dispositions to the Municipal Corporation

Please contact Co-Editors Jim Lampke at 781-749-9922; cell- 617-285-4561; jlampke@massmuniulaw.org or Bob Ritchie at cell- 413-531-2431; bobritchie@comcast.net

More than 1 person can work together on a chapter. MCLE needs the updated or new chapters by September 6. Working off of the existing chapters will make this an easier task.

For more information, contact Jim or Bob. Thank you!

MMLA Membership – Application / Renewal

MMLA Dues Notice and Membership Application 2019-2020

On June 26, 2019, current members were emailed via Survey Monkey the dues notice and membership application for the MMLA membership year that begins July 1, 2019 and ends June 30, 2020. This year we are using an electronic membership application. The notice provides the information needed for members to apply electronically through Survey Monkey and mail their dues. The electronic application is easy to complete and an efficient way for us to update our membership records.

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MMLA Dues Notice and Membership Application 2019-2020

On June 26, 2019, members were emailed via Survey Monkey the dues notice and membership application for the MMLA membership year that begins July 1, 2019 and ends June 30, 2020. This year we are using an electronic membership application. The notice provides the information needed for members to apply electronically through Survey Monkey and mail their dues. The electronic application is easy to complete and an efficient way for us to update our membership records.

When you complete the application, you should receive a confirmation email with a link to your application. We will also email you a pdf of your application. In the event you are unable to print the complete application using the Survey Monkey link, you can print the pdf to mail with your dues payment.

If you did not receive the email or have any difficulty with the electronic application, please contact Jim Lampke MMLA Executive Director as soon as possible at 781-749-9922 or jlampke@massmunilaw.org.

U S Supreme Court: Knick v. Township of Scott

[Posted below with permission from Lisa Soronen of State & Local Legal Center]

In a 5-4 opinion in Knick v. Township of Scott the Supreme Court held that a property owner may proceed directly to federal court with a takings claim. In Knick the Court overturned Williamson County Regional Planning Commission v. Hamilton Bank of Johnson City (1985), which held that before a takings claim may be brought in federal court, a property owner must first seek just compensation under state law in state court. The Township of Scott adopted an ordinance requiring cemeteries, whether located on public or private land, to be open and accessible to the public during the day. Code enforcement could enter any property to determine the “existence and location” of a cemetery. The Constitution’s Takings Clause states that “private property [shall not] be taken for public use, without just compensation.” Rose Mary Knick sued the county in federal (rather than state) court claiming the ordinance was invalid per the Takings Clause after code enforcement went onto her property without a warrant looking for (and finding) a cemetery not open to the public during the day. In an opinion written by Chief Justice Roberts the Court held that the state-litigation requirement of Williamson County is overruled. The Court reasoned the Takings Clause doesn’t say: “Nor shall private property be taken for public use, without an available procedure that will result in compensation.” The majority of the Justices were willing to overturn precedent in this case because Williamson County wasn’t just “wrong.” “Its reasoning was exceptionally ill founded and conflicted with much of our takings jurisprudence.”

 Lisa Soronen
Executive Director
State & Local Legal Center
444 North Capitol Street, N.W., Suite 515
Washington, D.C. 20001