Murphy, Hesse, Toomey & Lehane, LLP Receives Favorable Decision for Town of Dracut
On April 11, 2023, MHTL Attorneys Peter Mello and Madison Harris-Parks represented the Town of Dracut, and successfully obtained a preliminary injunction order requiring, among other things, that the Defendant homeowners cease renting out their pool to the public. The case, Town of Dracut by and Through Its Building Inspector vs. Nason, Gilbert et al., was initiated by the Town after the Defendants failed to comply with the Town’s associated underlying zoning enforcement order. The Town requested the injunction in part on the basis of its assertion that by advertising and renting their pool, two jacuzzies, and additional amenities to the public through the online pool rental platform Swimply.com, the Defendants were engaging in a commercial use of their property that the Town’s Zoning By Laws specifically prohibit in the residential zone in which they live. After concluding that the Town had demonstrated a likelihood of success on the merits and established safety concerns associated with Defendants’ use, the Court issued the requested injunction requiring that the Defendants cease advertising and renting their pool and jacuzzies, obtain all necessary permits for any unpermitted structures on their property, consistent with the property’s intended use as a single-family home, and remove all debris and structures encroaching into abutting Town property.
Mr. Mello is a partner at MHTL and focuses his practice in municipal law and general civil litigation, including in the areas of construction, land use and zoning, wetlands and school law, among others. He has advised private clients and governmental entities alike regarding myriad and diverse issues, including employment, energy-related issues, licensing, procurement, public records, meeting procedures, conflict of interest, and many others. He practices routinely before state and federal courts and state agencies in Massachusetts and has written and presented extensively on wetlands, construction and labor issues for organizations such as REBA, the Massachusetts School Building Authority, the Massachusetts Municipal Lawyers Association and the Massachusetts Bar Association. Mr. Mello earned his B.A. in Politics, with a Certificate in Legal Studies from Brandeis University and is a graduate of Boston University School of Law.
Ms. Harris-Parks graduated cum laude from Boston University School of Law in May 2021 and joined MHTL in the Fall of 2022 as an Associate. Prior to joining MHTL, Ms. Harris-Parks clerked for Justice Robert Brennan of the Massachusetts Appeals Court. As a law clerk, she also had the opportunity to work with the Appeals Court Clerk’s Office and multiple Justices handling petitions brought through the Court’s single justice practice. During law school, Ms. Harris-Parks gained valuable litigation experience while interning with the Solicitor’s Office of the U.S. Department of Labor, the Trial Division of the Massachusetts Attorney General’s Office, and the Housing Division of Harvard’s Legal Services Center. She served as a Managing Editor of BU Law’s Public Interest Law Journal, a Fellow for BU Law’s first-year writing program, and a research assistant. Ms. Harris-Parks is admitted to practice in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.
Attorney Felicia Vasudevan, a partner at Murphy, Hesse, Toomey & Lehane, LLP, received a favorable decision on behalf of her client, Marshfield Public Schools. The Plaintiff appealed the district court’s judgement that upheld a decision of the Massachusetts Bureau of Special Education Appeals (“BSEA”). However, as the notice was filed more than 30 days after entry, the First Circuit ultimately dismissed the appeal for being untimely. The Plaintiff also appealed the district court’s order, denying her motion to vacate. Read More
Following our Alert from March 16, 2023, Civility is Dead – The Supreme Court Rules Municipal Control of Public Speak Limited to Reasonable Time/Place/Manner Restrictions, which discussed the holding to the Supreme Judicial Court’s decision in Barron v. Kolenda and the Town of Southborough (SJC-13284), we promised to bring you more detailed guidance on developing a Public Speak policy for your public body or municipality. The Barron case involved a constitutional challenge to the Town of Southborough’s public comment policy, which attempted to impose a code of civility on members of the public who participated in public comment before public bodies. In Barron, the court interpreted the state constitution to mean that public bodies may request, but not require, that public commentators be respectful and courteous. Instead, a public body may set restrictions on reasonable time, place, and manner comments to ensure that the meeting retains an orderly and peaceable manner.