Newton Elects to Seek Further Appeal of Project

Newton Elects to Seek Further Appeal of Project

The City of Newton Board of Aldermen voted Sept. 2 to seek further appellate review with the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court in an attempt to block the University's Middle Campus Project.

The decision comes following an Aug. 13 ruling by the Massachusetts Appeals Court that affirmed a 2001 Land Court verdict stating that Newton had no legal basis to deny Boston College a special permit to build the proposed structure at the corner of Beacon Street and College Road.

The Middle Campus Project calls for the construction of three interconnected buildings that are needed to replace an outdated student center and provide space for classrooms and faculty offices.

"We are disappointed that the Board of Aldermen has decided to seek further judicial review as we do not believe there is a legal basis for their decision," said Director of Public Affairs Jack Dunn.

The case dates back to April 1995, when Boston College proposed a new academic building and student center to replace McElroy Commons. In February 1996, the University applied to the Newton Board of Aldermen for a special permit to construct the three buildings.

The project won approval from the Newton Department of Planning and Development and the aldermen's Land Use Committee. Thirteen of 24 aldermen supported the proposal when the full board voted in October 1996, but the project did not receive the necessary two-thirds majority required for the permit.

The board's actions prompted Boston College to appeal the decision to the Massachusetts Land Court on the grounds that the decision violated the Dover Amendment, which protects educational institutions and religious groups from unreasonable zoning regulations.
Dunn said it is likely that the SJC would take 90 days to decide if it would hear the case.

"Once we have resolution of the matter in the courts we will need to review the plans in light of the University's present needs," he said.

-Stephen Gawlik


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