Wayside Youth & Family Support Network, Inc.; Massachusetts Land Court; U.S. District Court, D.Mass.

Land Court case

Wayside purchased a 14-acre lot of land in Framingham, the organizations home town, with the intention of combining a number of its community programs in a single campus program for adolescents with serious learning and emotional difficulties. A group of neighbors formed the "Sucker Pond Neighborhood Association" and set out to stop Wayside's plans. After the Building Inspector agreed with us that the federal Fair Housing Act and the Dover Amendment protected Wayside's use of its land for the campus program, he issued a building permit. The neighbors appealed to the Zoning Board of appeals, and when the Zoning Board upheld the Building Inspector, they appealed to the Land Court. Success was not guaranteed because there were issues regarding Framingham's complicated zoning bylaw and certain dimensions of the lot. After hearing both sides argue on Wayside's motion for summary judgment, Judge Trombley of the Land Court issued an excellent decision upholding the Zoning Board and Wayside's right to build and operate its campus program. The opponents did not appeal.

Federal Court case

While Wayside's opponents did not appeal the Land Court decision, they remained politically active and persuaded the Board of Selectmen to oppose Wayside's plans. Under Framingham's ordinances, major projects such as Wayside's needed a "public way access permit," essentially a curb cut permit before a driveway could be opened up onto a public way. Following a three-night hearing, the Board of Selectmen denied the permit to Wayside, further delaying the campus plan. Wayside filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court alleging amongst other things, unlawful discrimination against Wayside's handicapped clients. After prevailing in its motion for partial summary judgment establishing Wayside's right to the public way access permit, federal Magistrate Judge Leo Sorokin, gave the parties sixty days to attempt a settlement. At an all day mediation presided over by retired Appeals Court Judge Rudolph Kass, Wayside and the Town settled their differences allowing the campus program to proceed. The program opened in April 2009 and is proudly serving deserving young people in need of Wayside's services. Relations with Town officials and neighbors are excellent. Readers interested in learning more about the Wayside story can order or download "A Siting Battle Case Study" authored by Attorney Margolin, on the home page of this web site.

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