CHAPA Submits Amicus Brief in Support of Removing Barriers to Housing Production
September 12, 2022
On September 12, CHAPA, along with Department of Housing and Community Development and 21 industry, non-profit and state partners,submitted an Amicus Briefto the Supreme Judicial Court in the case of Terrence Marengi v. 6 Forest Road, LLC (“Marengi”) in support of a ruling of the Superior Court, as affirmed by the Appeals Court, applying recently enacted abutter appeal reform provisions to comprehensive permit cases.
Marengi involves a group of abutters challenging an order requiring them to post a $35,000 bond to pursue their appeal of an approved 40B comprehensive permit in Salisbury. The abutters argue that the bond provisions of chapter 40A, § 17, do not apply to appeals of 40B comprehensive permits. The third paragraph of §17 is the one in question.
The abutters appealed the decision of the Superior Court in granting the bond request to the Massachusetts Appeals Court. The Appeals Court upheld the decision of the Superior Court, ruling that § 17 of ch. 40A applies to appeals of 40B comprehensive permits. The abutters appealed this decision and the Supreme Judicial Court will now decide the case.
The Economic Development Bill from 2020 amended § 17 of ch. 40A to allow a judge to require abutters to post a bond of up to $50,000 if the court finds the harm to the defendant or to the public interest resulting from the delay of the project caused by the appeal outweighs the financial burden of the bond on the abutters. The Legislature passed this new section of § 17 to discourage frivolous appeals which abutters often use to delay or ultimately stop the building of new homes. The Legislature passed this along with other historic zoning reforms in the Economic Development Bill, including Housing Choice and the MBTA multifamily zoning requirement, to remove barriers to housing.
CHAPA and our partners argue that § 17 of ch. 40A applies to appeals of 40B comprehensive permits, and further that the Legislature always intended the new bonding requirement in § 17 to apply to 40B because the section was added by the Economic Development as part of a series of reforms all passed to address the state's housing shortage.