B.C. Wins Rulings As Middle Campus Trial Approaches

Boston College has won significant court rulings in advance of the Middle Campus Project trial, which is scheduled to begin on March 30.

Earlier this month, Land Court Justice Caryn F. Scheier ruled on three pre-trial motions that will affect how the trial will proceed. Boston College is suing the Newton Board of Aldermen over its 1996 decision to deny the University a special permit for construction of the proposed Middle Campus Project.

Scheier ruled in favor of a motion brought by Boston College that the former proposal to build a student center on Lower Campus be excluded from trial testimony. The ruling will keep the trial focused on the Middle Campus Project.

The judge denied a request by the City of Newton to exclude from evidence a report prepared by the city's Planning Department shortly after Newton enacted the current zoning ordinance for Middle Campus in late 1987. The report states that the zoning requirements for Middle Campus are overly restrictive and indicates that they can be liberalized to permit additional development of the campus without threatening the character of the surrounding neighborhood.

Finally, Scheier ruled in favor of a Boston College request that Alderman Brooke Lipsitt not be permitted to testify at the trial.

The Middle Campus Project proposes construction of two buildings and the demolition of McElroy Commons. It would provide the University with an academic building, Monan Hall, that would include classroom and faculty office space, and a new student center.

BC is appealing the aldermen's decision on two main legal grounds: that the project is, in fact, worthy of a special permit based on its merits - the denial, therefore, being arbitrary and capricious; and that the city's current zoning restrictions applying to Middle Campus are unlawful.

-Michael Seele

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