Zarek v. Attleboro Area Human Services, Inc.; Bristol County Superior Court

This was a trial early in Attorney Margolin's career. The issue at the time had never been ruled upon by a Massachusetts court – whether a residential group home for adults with mental retardation could be situated by right in a residential neighborhood zoned strictly for single-family homes. Our argument to the court was that the Dover Amendment, which exempts educational programs operated by non-profit corporations from zoning restrictions, protected the right of the group home to exist alongside traditional single-family homes. The late (and great advocate for the disabled) Professor Gunar Dybwad of Brandeis University, testified as Attorney Margolin's expert, and persuaded then-Superior Court Judge Kent Smith, that staffed group homes teaching mentally retarded adults, skills of daily living, were protected educational uses. Judge Smith’s written decision – widely circulated by proponents of disability rights – was the first time a Massachusetts court applied the Dover Amendment to group homes for adults
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