Posts tagged "Appeals"

135 Wells Avenue, LLC v. Housing Appeals Committee, et al. (Lawyers Weekly No. 10-184-17)

NOTICE:  All slip opinions and orders are subject to formal revision and are superseded by the advance sheets and bound volumes of the Official Reports.  If you find a typographical error or other formal error, please notify the Reporter of Decisions, Supreme Judicial Court, John Adams Courthouse, 1 Pemberton Square, Suite 2500, Boston, MA, 02108-1750; (617) 557-1030; SJCReporter@sjc.state.ma.us

SJC-12253

135 WELLS AVENUE, LLC  vs.  HOUSING APPEALS COMMITTEE & others.[1]

Suffolk.     April 6, 2017. – November 13, 2017.

Present:  Gants, C.J., Lenk, Hines, Gaziano, Lowy, Budd, & Cypher, JJ.[2]

Municipal Corporations, Property, Use of municipal property.  Real Property, Deed, Restrictions.  Housing.  Zoning, Housing appeals committee, Low and moderate income housing, Board of appeals:  jurisdiction.  Permit.

Civil action commenced in the Land Court Department on January 14, 2016. read more

Posted by Stephen Sandberg - November 14, 2017 at 4:38 am

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Anne Gamble Ten Taxpayer Group, et al. v. Health Facilities Appeals Board, et al. (Lawyers Weekly No. 09-031-17)

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COMMONWEALTH OF MASSACHUSETTS
SUFFOLK, ss. SUPERIOR COURT
SUCV2015-3545-BLS2
ANNE GAMBLE TEN TAXPAYER GROUP, consisting of
GUSTAVE H. MURBY, ANNE C. GAMBLE, WALTER J. GAMBLE, STEPHEN GELLIS, M.D., LORING CONANT M.D., JR., CONANT LOUISE, BRIAN GREENBERG, PEGGY GREENBERG, KAREN D’AMATO, CHRISTINE BARENSFELD, JOHN W. HAGERMAN, ROBERT GAMBLE, SHIRLEY C. DUFF, JAMES K. DUFF, JAMES M. SMITH, and ELLEN K. ANDERSSON,
Plaintiffs
vs.
HEALTH FACILITIES APPEALS BOARD, MONICA BHAREL, M.D., in her capacity as COMMISSIONER OF MASSACHUSETTS DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC HEALTH, MARYLOU SUDDERS, in her capacity as SECRETARY OF MASSACHUSETTS EXECUTIVE OFFICE OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES, and CHILDREN’S HOSPITAL CORPORATION d/b/a CHILDREN’S HOSPITAL,
Defendants
MEMORANDUM OF DECISION AND ORDER
ON CROSS MOTIONS FOR JUDGMENT ON THE PLEADINGS
AND ON PLAINTIFFS’ MOTION TO AMEND COMPLAINT
This is one of several lawsuits filed by a group of plaintiffs unhappy with a decision by the defendant Boston Children’s Hospital (BCH) to eliminate the Prouty Garden as part of a modernization and expansion project. In the instant case, plaintiffs challenge the October 27, 2016 determination by the Commissioner of the Department of Public Health and the Public Health Council (collectively, the Department) to issue a Determination of Need in connection with that project. The Department’s decision is subject to judicial review pursuant to G.L.c. 30A §14 and G.L.c. 111 §25E. With the Administrative Record having been filed, this case is before this Court on Cross Motions for Judgment on the Pleadings, as required by Superior Court Standing Order 1-96. Plaintiffs also seek leave to amend their Complaint. This Court concludes
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that the plaintiffs’ motions must be DENIED and the defendants’ Cross Motion must be ALLOWED, for reasons set forth herein.
BACKGROUND
Section 25C of Chapter 111 of the Massachusetts General Laws states that a health care institution contemplating a construction project that requires a “substantial capital expenditure” must first obtain a determination of need or “DoN” from the Department of Public Health (DPH). The purpose of the statute is to “control unnecessary expansion by health care institutions of their patient care facilities,” Howe v. Health Facilities Appeals Bd., 20 Mass.App.Ct. 531, 532 (1985), and to encourage the appropriate allocation of resources for health care purposes. Shoolman v. Health Facilities Appeals Bd., 404 Mass. 33, 36 (1989). In order to obtain a DoN, the health care institution must file an Application, which is reviewed for completeness and then forwarded for to the Public Health Council (PHC) and the Commissioner of DPH for their consideration. 105 C.M.R. §510-100.530.1 The Application is also subject to comments and a public hearing. G.L.c. 111 §25C, 105 C.M.R. §§100.400-100.410. The DoN Program Director prepares a staff report (the Staff Summary). 105 C.M.R. §§100.420-100.421. Upon consideration of the Application, the Staff Summary and comments by “parties of record” and the general public, the Department makes a final Determination of Need approving or disapproving the Application, in whole or in part. 105. C.M.R. §100.530(A). Under G.L.c. 111 §25E, any person aggrieved by the determination may, within fourteen days, file an appeal with
1 This Court was informed by counsel at the hearing on these Motions that the DoN regulations have since been amended. As this Court understands it, any changes with regard to content have no bearing on this case. The amendment has changed the number references for those regulations, however. Because the parties agree that the earlier version of the regulations apply and because they have cited to that earlier version in their pleadings, this Court uses the citations to those older regulations, even though they have now been superseded.
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the Health Facilities Appeals Board. G.L.c. 111 §25E. Within sixty days of that filing, the Board is to issue a final decision either denying the appeal or remanding it for further action.
In the instant case, all these procedural steps were followed. On December 7, 2016, BCH filed an Application for a DoN in connection with a project to create new clinical space, including a neonatal intensive care unit and improved Heart Center at the hospital’s Longwood Avenue location (the Project) If approved, the Project would require the destruction of the Prouty Garden. The plaintiffs are a group of taxpayers who oppose destruction of the garden. They are duly registered with the Department as a “party of record” to the DoN proceedings and may file comments to the Application, which they did.
As required by statute, the DPH staff, held a public hearing on the Project and the plaintiffs were among those who provided their views. After a ten month review process, DPH issued a 37-page Staff Summary that recommended approval of the Application, with conditions. That Summary was later supplemented with an Addendum that addressed certain comments, including those submitted by the Health Policy Commission (HPC). On October 20, 2016, the PHC, chaired by DPH Commissioner Monica Bharel, held a hearing to determine whether to grant BCH’s DoN Application. Among those presenting testimony at the hearing were various individuals who opposed the destruction of Prouty Garden. The PHC ultimately voted to approve BCH’s Application, and the Commissioner and the PHC, acting together as the Department, issued a Notice of Final Action on October 27, 2016. That Notice states that the issuance of the DoN was based upon BCH’s “clear and convincing demonstration that the Project meets each of the governing factors, set forth in 105 C.M.R. 100.000 and Department guidelines.” The approval expressly included certain conditions. Although the statute is ordinarily reviewable by the Health Facilities Appeals Board, the Board had not yet been
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constituted so that the determination by the Department was considered final. 105 C.M.R. §100.970(B); 105 C.M.R. §100.551(A). This lawsuit ensued.
DISCUSSION
The Legislature has determined what standard that this Court applies in reviewing a Department decision to issue a DoN. That standard is set forth in G.L.c. 111 §25E, which states that the Department’s determination may be set aside only where there has been an “abuse of discretion” or where it is in violation of the procedural or substantive law. Contrary to the plaintiffs’ position, this Court does not apply the more rigorous “substantial evidence” standard. Howe v. Health Facilities Board, 20 Mass.App.Ct. 531, 534-537 (1985); see also Shoolman v. Health Facilities Appeals Board, 404 Mass. 33 (1989). Rather, the review is even more deferential. As explained by the SJC, the decision to issue the DoN can be overturned only if it was “arbitrary and capricious.” Shoolman, 404 Mass. at 36. If there is a rational basis for the decision and it is not otherwise unlawful, then it must be affirmed. Applying this standard, this Court concludes that the plaintiffs have not met their burden of demonstrating that the Department’ decision to issue a DoN to BCH should be overturned.
As stated in the October 27, 2016 Notice of Final Action, the Department reviewed BCH’s Application to determine whether it complied with certain mandatory terms and conditions of the applicable regulations. Specifically, it sought to determine whether the Project met each of nine factors set forth in 105 C.M.R. §100.533(B). In support of their Motion, plaintiffs focus on a couple of these factors and argue that the evidence does not support the Department’s decision. One of those factors (Factor One) requires BCH to demonstrate that the Project “will not duplicate existing resources in the applicable service area.” 105 C.M.R. §100.533(B) (1). A second factor (Factor Two) requires that the project must “satisfy in whole
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or in part health care requirements of the project population of the applicable services area, without any duplication of services and other adverse service consequences…” ” 105 C.M.R. §100.533(B) (2). Plaintiffs argues that the Project does not satisfy these requirements because it is based not on present needs but on BCH projections regarding future patient volume. Moreover, these projections (they argue) are not based on increased demand from Massachusetts patients but from international and out of state patients. Citing comments by the HPC, plaintiffs express concern that shifting patients from competing local pediatric care providers to BCH could have a destabilizing effect that would translate into higher health care costs overall. Plaintiffs argue that the Department ignored these concerns and that the Department’s decision that the regulatory factors were satisfied is wholly unsupported by the facts presented to it.
In fact, a review of the Administrative Record shows that the Department did consider the same arguments and criticisms plaintiffs now make to this Court. The HPC’s comments, for example, were specifically addressed both in the Staff Summary and the Addendum. The plaintiffs may disagree with how the Department resolved those concerns, but that is not a basis to overturn its decision. Moreover, the reasons offered in support of the decision are neither arbitrary nor capricious. Regarding the danger of duplication of services, the Staff Summary concluded that the “applicable services area” referenced in the regulations can – and, in the instant case, did — extend to an area beyond Massachusetts so that it was permissible to consider patients projected to come from out of state and internationally. The Department further determined that higher acuity patients from all regions, including the Boston area, are already coming to BCH for more complex procedures than are available at other local hospitals, decreasing the danger that services would be duplicated. As to the validity of BCH’s projections, the DPH Staff required from BCH an Independent Cost Analysis which (among
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other things) reviewed population projections, historical trends, and two patient projection scenarios. That analysis concluded that the success of the Project would not require taking patients away from other local providers and was also “consistent with the Commonwealth’s effort to meet the health care cost containment goals.” In short, in making the findings that it did, the Department did not abuse its discretion or exceed its legal authority. Indeed, even under the less deferential “substantial evidence” standard, the DoN determination passes muster.
Significantly, the Department did not simply determine that BCH’s Application satisfied the nine mandatory factors imposed by the regulations. Additionally, it imposed eight conditions on BCH, among them “Condition 8.” That condition imposed three requirements on BCH that directly addressed the concerns expressed above. First, BCH was prevented from passing on its incremental operating costs to government and nongovernment Massachusetts payors or patients “in excess of the Commonwealth’s costs containment goals.” Second, BCH had to maintain its commitment to serving Medicaid patients. Third, it is required to make an annual report to the Department that includes among other things information concerning the degree to which the out-of-state demand it anticipated was actually being realized. Plaintiffs argue that this condition is somehow invalid or at the very least unworkable. This Court disagrees.
The DoN regulations expressly permit the Department to impose conditions. See 105 C.M.R. §100.552(A) (Department “may prescribe…any other conditions reasonably related to the scope of the project…and consistent with the objective of making adequate health care services reasonably available to every person within Massachusetts”). Indeed, the regulations specifically contemplate the imposition of a condition in the event that the Project falls short of satisfying any of the nine regulatory factors. See 105 CM.R. §100.533(C). Plaintiffs argue that
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Condition 8 is not in accordance with 105 C.M.R. 100. §552, which requires that the condition be “within the control of the applicant.” But each of the three requirements that Condition 8 imposes are within BCH’s control and are matters for which the Department can hold BCH accountable. That Condition 8 by its terms gives to BCH an opportunity to argue that it is noncompliant with any of the requirements because of unexpected circumstances or events does not change the fact that the condition itself (including the submission of an annual report) concerns matters within BCH’s control. Nor does this so called “escape clause” render the Condition meaningless: a finding by the Department that BCH is not in compliance with Condition 8 permits the Department to require BCH to remove beds from service and to extract other payments. In short, this Court sees no legal grounds for overturning the Department’s decision.
At the same time that the plaintiffs filed their Cross Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings, they also filed a Motion to Amend the Complaint. This Motion seeks to add a count (Count 4) which alleges that since the issuance of the DoN, BCH is in violation of the conditions that the Department imposed and has otherwise not complied with applicable regulations. BCH argues that plaintiffs’ allegations are demonstrably false and that further amendment of the Complaint would futile. Although this Court must accept plaintiffs’ allegations as true, this Court does have some discretion to deny a request to amend a complaint, and does so here. See Rule 15(a), Mass.R.Civ.P.
Count 4 alleges among other things that the report that Condition 8 requires BCH to submit to the Department is inadequate; it also alleges that BCH has not complied with Condition 7 of the DoN that requires it to implement a plan to effectively communicate with community groups. Whether BCH is in violation of those conditions, however, is a matter that
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should first be addressed to the Department, which has both the expertise and the primary responsibility for enforcing its own regulations and orders. See Athol Mem’l Hospital v. Comm’r of Div. of Med. Assistance, 437 Mass. 417, 421-422 (2002). Other parts of Count 4 do not appear to belong in this case at all. For example, plaintiffs allege public records violations, but have already filed a separate public records action which this Court has already refused to consolidate with the instant one. See Murby v. Marylou Sudders, Civ. No., 17-1036H (Suffolk Superior Court). 2 A motion to amend may also be properly denied based on “undue delay, bad faith, or dilatory motive on the part of the movant.” Vakil v. Vakil, 450 Mass. 411, 417 (2008), quoting Castellucci v. United States Fid. & Gaur. Co., 372 Mass. 288, 290 (1977). BCH argues (not without basis) that the plaintiffs here are more interested in delay than in seeking redress for real (as opposed to illusory) legal violations. In short, taking into account both the procedural background of this case together with the violations that are alleged, there is ample basis for this Court to exercise its discretion to deny the motion.
CONCLUSION AND ORDER
For all the foregoing reasons together with reasons articulated in the Memoranda of BCH and the Department, the plaintiffs’ Motion to Amend the Complaint and their Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings are both DENIED. The defendants’ Cross Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings is ALLOWED and it is hereby ORDERED that judgment enter affirming the Department’s DoN determination. The parties shall submit a proposed form of judgment within 10 days of receiving this opinion.
_____________________________
Janet L. Sanders
Dated: October 13, 2017 Justice of the Superior Court
2 Based on plaintiffs’ Reply Memorandum, it appears that at least some of the information that plaintiffs sought was provided as of the date the Motion to Amend was filed, suggesting that at least some of the alleged violations are now moot or may soon become moot once the records are provided.
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Dated: October 13, 2017 read more

Posted by Stephen Sandberg - November 3, 2017 at 2:37 pm

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Koines, et al. v. Zoning Board of Appeals of Cohasset, et al. (Lawyers Weekly No. 11-014-17)

NOTICE:  All slip opinions and orders are subject to formal revision and are superseded by the advance sheets and bound volumes of the Official Reports.  If you find a typographical error or other formal error, please notify the Reporter of Decisions, Supreme Judicial Court, John Adams Courthouse, 1 Pemberton Square, Suite 2500, Boston, MA, 02108-1750; (617) 557-1030; SJCReporter@sjc.state.ma.us

16-P-678                                        Appeals Court

ALEXANDER C. KOINES & another[1]  vs.  ZONING BOARD OF APPEALS OF COHASSET & others.[2]

No. 16-P-678.     February 21, 2017.

Zoning, Nonconforming use or structure, Lot size, Exemption, Judicial review.  Real Property, Merger.

The plaintiffs appeal from a judgment of the Land Court that affirmed a decision of the defendant zoning board of appeals of Cohasset (board) based on a conclusion that the board correctly interpreted the Cohasset zoning by-law to afford grandfather protection to a lot owned by the defendants John and Martha Shaw.  We affirm. read more

Posted by Stephen Sandberg - February 21, 2017 at 8:12 pm

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Furlong, et al. v. Zoning Board of Appeals of Salem, et al.

NOTICE:  All slip opinions and orders are subject to formal revision and are superseded by the advance sheets and bound volumes of the Official Reports.  If you find a typographical error or other formal error, please notify the Reporter of Decisions, Supreme Judicial Court, John Adams Courthouse, 1 Pemberton Square, Suite 2500, Boston, MA, 02108-1750; (617) 557-1030; SJCReporter@sjc.state.ma.us

15-P-1174                                       Appeals Court

MICHAEL F. FURLONG & another[1]  vs.  ZONING BOARD OF APPEALS OF SALEM & another.[2]

No. 15-P-1174.

Suffolk.     October 7, 2016. – December 12, 2016.

Present:  Hanlon, Sullivan, & Blake, JJ.

Zoning, Variance, Setback.  Practice, Civil, Zoning appeal.

Civil action commenced in the Land Court Department on February 17, 2012.

The case was heard by Robert B. Foster, J. read more

Posted by Stephen Sandberg - December 13, 2016 at 3:04 pm

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Zoning Board of Appeals of Hanover v. Housing Appeals Committee, et al. (Lawyers Weekly No. 11-110-16)

NOTICE:  All slip opinions and orders are subject to formal revision and are superseded by the advance sheets and bound volumes of the Official Reports.  If you find a typographical error or other formal error, please notify the Reporter of Decisions, Supreme Judicial Court, John Adams Courthouse, 1 Pemberton Square, Suite 2500, Boston, MA, 02108-1750; (617) 557-1030; SJCReporter@sjc.state.ma.us

15-P-893                                        Appeals Court

ZONING BOARD OF APPEALS OF HANOVER  vs.  HOUSING APPEALS COMMITTEE & another.[1]

No. 15-P-893.

Plymouth.     May 9, 2016. – August 29, 2016.

Present:  Agnes, Massing, & Kinder, JJ.

HousingZoning, Housing appeals committee, Comprehensive permit, Low and moderate income housing.  Administrative Law, Agency’s interpretation of regulation, Regulations. Municipal Corporations, Fees. read more

Posted by Stephen Sandberg - August 29, 2016 at 3:17 pm

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Tusino v. Zoning Board of Appeals of Douglas, et al. (and a companion case) (Lawyers Weekly No. 11-107-16)

NOTICE:  All slip opinions and orders are subject to formal revision and are superseded by the advance sheets and bound volumes of the Official Reports.  If you find a typographical error or other formal error, please notify the Reporter of Decisions, Supreme Judicial Court, John Adams Courthouse, 1 Pemberton Square, Suite 2500, Boston, MA, 02108-1750; (617) 557-1030; SJCReporter@sjc.state.ma.us

15-P-1400                                       Appeals Court

14-P-1193

LOUIS C. TUSINO  vs.  ZONING BOARD OF APPEALS OF DOUGLAS

& another[1] (and a companion case[2]).

Nos. 15-P-1400 & 14-P-1193.

Worcester.     June 3, 2016. – August 25, 2016.

Present:  Vuono, Wolohojian, & Blake, JJ.

Jurisdiction, Zoning.  District Court, Jurisdiction, Appellate Division.  Zoning, Appeal.  Appeals Court, Jurisdiction.  Practice, Civil, Zoning appeal, Appellate Division:  appeal, Action in nature of mandamus, Moot case.  Mandamus.  Moot Question. read more

Posted by Stephen Sandberg - August 25, 2016 at 6:15 pm

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Eisai, Inc., et al. v. Housing Appeals Committee, et al. (Lawyers Weekly No. 11-072-16)

NOTICE:  All slip opinions and orders are subject to formal revision and are superseded by the advance sheets and bound volumes of the Official Reports.  If you find a typographical error or other formal error, please notify the Reporter of Decisions, Supreme Judicial Court, John Adams Courthouse, 1 Pemberton Square, Suite 2500, Boston, MA, 02108-1750; (617) 557-1030; SJCReporter@sjc.state.ma.us

15-P-680                                        Appeals Court

EISAI, INC., & others[1]  vs.  HOUSING APPEALS COMMITTEE & another.[2]

No. 15-P-680.

Suffolk.     March 8, 2016. – June 20, 2016.

Present:  Hanlon, Sullivan, & Massing, JJ.

HousingZoning, Housing appeals committee, Comprehensive permit, Person aggrieved.  Practice, Civil, Zoning appeal, Standing.

Civil action commenced in the Superior Court Department on March 11, 2014.

The case was heard by Edward P. Leibensperger, J., on motions for judgment on the pleadings. read more

Posted by Stephen Sandberg - June 20, 2016 at 5:17 pm

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Picard v. Zoning Board of Appeals of Westminster, et al. (Lwyers Weekly No. 10-085-16)

NOTICE:  All slip opinions and orders are subject to formal revision and are superseded by the advance sheets and bound volumes of the Official Reports.  If you find a typographical error or other formal error, please notify the Reporter of Decisions, Supreme Judicial Court, John Adams Courthouse, 1 Pemberton Square, Suite 2500, Boston, MA, 02108-1750; (617) 557-1030; SJCReporter@sjc.state.ma.us

SJC-11991

MAURICE PICARD, personal representative,[1]  vs.  ZONING BOARD OF APPEALS OF WESTMINSTER & another.[2]

Worcester.     February 9, 2016. – June 17, 2016.

Present:  Gants, C.J., Spina, Cordy, Botsford, Duffly, Lenk, & Hines, JJ.

Zoning, Person aggrieved.  Practice, Civil, Standing.  Easement.  Real Property, Easement, Beach.  Beach.

Civil action commenced in the Superior Court Department on August 23, 2011.

The case was heard by Robert B. Gordon, J.

After review by the Appeals Court, the Supreme Judicial Court granted leave to obtain further appellate review. read more

Posted by Stephen Sandberg - June 17, 2016 at 5:45 pm

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Reynolds v. Zoning Board of Appeals of Stow, et al. (Lawyers Weekly No. 11-144-15)

NOTICE:  All slip opinions and orders are subject to formal revision and are superseded by the advance sheets and bound volumes of the Official Reports.  If you find a typographical error or other formal error, please notify the Reporter of Decisions, Supreme Judicial Court, John Adams Courthouse, 1 Pemberton Square, Suite 2500, Boston, MA, 02108-1750; (617) 557-1030; SJCReporter@sjc.state.ma.us

14-P-663                                        Appeals Court

GREGORY REYNOLDS  vs.  ZONING BOARD OF APPEALS OF STOW & another.[1]

No. 14-P-663.

Middlesex.     January 13, 2015. – September 15, 2015.

Present:  Trainor, Vuono, Hanlon, JJ.

 

Housing.  Zoning, Board of appeals:  decision; Low and moderate income housing; Comprehensive permit.  Practice, Civil, Standing.

Civil action commenced in the Superior Court Department on November 23, 2010.

The case was heard by Kenneth W. Salinger, J. read more

Posted by Stephen Sandberg - September 15, 2015 at 3:41 pm

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Buccaneer Development, Inc. v. Zoning Board of Review of Appeals of Lenox (Lawyers Weekly No. 11-105-15)

NOTICE:  All slip opinions and orders are subject to formal revision and are superseded by the advance sheets and bound volumes of the Official Reports.  If you find a typographical error or other formal error, please notify the Reporter of Decisions, Supreme Judicial Court, John Adams Courthouse, 1 Pemberton Square, Suite 2500, Boston, MA, 02108-1750; (617) 557-1030; SJCReporter@sjc.state.ma.us

14-P-855                                        Appeals Court

BUCCANEER DEVELOPMENT, INC.  vs.  ZONING BOARD OF APPEALS OF LENOX.

No. 14-P-855.

Suffolk.     April 8, 2015. – August 11, 2015.

Present:  Berry, Milkey, & Massing, JJ.

Zoning, Special permit, Board of appeals:  decision.

Civil action commenced in the Land Court Department on January 9, 2008.

After review by this court, 83 Mass. App. Ct. 40 (2012), the case was heard by Dina E. Fein, J., sitting by designation, on a case stated. read more

Posted by Stephen Sandberg - August 11, 2015 at 6:29 pm

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