Middle Campus Case in Judge's Hands

By Michael Seele
Chronicle Editor

Lawyers for Boston College and the City of Newton presented final oral arguments on the proposed Middle Campus Project in Massachusetts Land Court on March 4 and now await the judge's decision.

BC administrators expressed satisfaction with the University's presentation of its case, although Judge Karyn Scheier's decision may not come for several months.

The oral arguments capped a trial that began in April 1998 and continued intermittently until last week. Boston College is appealing the October 1996 decision of the Newton Board of Aldermen to deny a special permit for the Middle Campus Project, which proposes construction of a new student center and academic building.

Throughout the trial, lawyers for Boston College have argued 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.

"I remain confident that we have put forth extensive, credible arguments as to why the Board of Aldermen should not have turned down the application for a special permit, and why the zoning ordinance that applies to the Middle Campus is unreasonable," said General Counsel Joseph Herlihy.

Associate Vice President for State and Community Relations Paul White added, "Boston College has taken every step to demonstrate the need for this project and why we should be able to build it under the law."

Herlihy said the judge indicated she will place a high priority on this case, but since its outcome could set a precedent that may affect educational institutions throughout the state, her decision is not expected in the immediate future. There is no legal deadline for the judge to issue her decision, Herlihy added.

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