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SJC Rules on Educational Exemption under the Dover Amendment in The McLean Hospital Corporation v. Town of Lincoln


Overturning the Massachusetts Land Court’s decision, the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court (SJC) ruled in favor of McLean Hospital in The McLean Hospital Corporation v. Town of Lincoln. Hemenway & Barnes attorneys Diane C. Tillotson and M. Patrick Moore represented McLean Hospital before the SJC. At issue was whether the hospital’s proposal to operate a skills development program in a residential zone was an educational use exempt from town zoning laws under the Dover Amendment, G. L. c. 40A, § 3. Tillotson and Moore argued that the program's purpose was educationally significant in that the "therapy" consisted of educating the population served in necessary life skills. The SJC agreed concluding, “although not a conventional educational curriculum offered to high school or college students, the proposed facility and its skills-based curriculum fall well within the "broad and comprehensive" meaning of "educational purposes" under the Dover Amendment.”

Read the SJC decision:

Click here to Watch Diane’s April 2, 2019 argument at the SJC

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