Municipal Law News


KeywordsDepartment of Youth Services. Statute, Appropriation of money, Construction. Declaratory Relief. Jurisdiction, Declaratory relief, Justiciable question. Practice, Civil, Declaratory proceeding, Motion to dismiss. Governmental Immunity

The Appeals Court on Thursday issued its decision in Nordberg v. Commonwealth, in which it upheld in part and reversed in part a suit by a private individual against the state over line items set forth in general appropriation acts.  The case provides a helpful discussion of private rights of action against the government and sovereign immunity.  Click here for the Appeals Court’s decision.


KeywordsState Ethics Commission. Conflict of Interest. Administrative Law, Conflict of interest, Substantial evidence, Judicial review. Evidence, Administrative proceeding, State of mind, Expert opinion. Police Officer. Motor Vehicle, Investigation of accident. Probable Cause

The Appeals Court  issued on Thursday its decision in McGovern v State Ethics Commission in which it upheld  the SEC’s findings of violations of the Conflict of Interest Law by a police lieutenant in giving preferential treatment to a fellow police officer in an alcohol related motor vehicle incident.  The case is particularly informative by its analysis of substantial evidence and other administrative law issues. Click here for the full text of the Appeals Court’s decision.

MCLE: “1st Look” at What Municipal Counsel Needs to Know When Cannabis Comes to Town

MMLA would like to call to your attention an important and timely legal educational program by our long-time partner MCLE. It is entitled:

“1st Look” at What Municipal Counsel Needs to Know When Cannabis Comes to Town –
Learn how to navigate and advise your town
on the burgeoning new, multifaceted cannabis industry.

In-Person Program Thursday, 10/17/2019, 3:00 pm – 5:00 pm, MCLE Conference Center, Ten Winter Place, Boston

Live Webcast Thursday, 10/17/2019, 3:00 pm – 5:00 pm, Live Webcast,, Live Webcast

Recorded Webcast Thursday, 10/31/2019, 9:00 am – 11:00 am, Recorded Webcast,, Recorded Webcast

For more program details, and additional information on this program and for registration information, click here.

SJC: McLean Hospital Corporation v. Town of Lincoln

KeywordsZoning, Educational use. Education, Zoning. Words, “Educational purpose.” 

Reversing the decision of the Land Court, the SJC’s decision rejected the Land Court’s denial of “Dover Amendment” protections to McLean’s residential program reasoning that the Land Court’s conclusion that program activities were medical and not educational for purposes of G.L. c. 40A, Section 3, was wrong.  Click here for the full text of the SJC opinion.

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

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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