SMOC house appeal postponed

SMOC house appeal postponed Friday, November 2, 2007
D. Craig MacCormack 508-626-4429 Metrowest Daily News
FRAMINGHAM - An Ardmore Road resident's appeal of the relocation of a group home for former addicts and their families was pushed back until Nov. 13 because his lawyer was unable to attend the first night of testimony Tuesday.

The Zoning Board of Appeals opened the case but did not hear any testimony from either side this week, said Chairman Phil Ottaviani.  The appeal centers on Building Commissioner Michael Foley's approval and issuance of a temporary occupancy permit for Sage House at 517 Winter St. in August.

Appellant Lawrence Hendry, a Framingham Police officer, also questioned Foley's application of the Dover Amendment for the program, which is operated by South Middlesex Opportunity Council.

The Dover Amendment limits the amount of local review on religious and educational projects.

Efforts to reach Hendry, who is a member of the neighborhood group Stop Tax Exempt Private Property Sprawl, were unsuccessful this week.

Sage House, which would house 15 former addicts and their families, is slated to move from 61 Clinton St. to its new home in a former nursing home on Winter Street.

The Planning Board had initially voted to deny SMOC's public way access permit for the new home of Sage House, but later reversed that decision and voted to endorse the application.

At its next meeting on Nov. 13, the zoning board will also open the appeal by SMOC of Foley's denial of the building permit for Larry's Place, a proposed home for disabled homeless veterans at 90 Lincoln St.

Foley denied the application, saying the proposal did not meet the standards for Dover Amendment protection because it does not include a place for residents to eat or gather together and there is no educational component.

That hearing, though, is expected to be delayed until December to give the sides more time to prepare their cases, said Ottaviani.

A federal lawsuit filed last week by SMOC charges town officials with using ``an Orwellian interpretation of law'' to block the application for Larry's Place.

The 99-page complaint, filed in U.S. District Court, points to ``a coordinated effort'' by town officials, three selectmen, four Planning Board members, several Town Meeting members and two other residents to rid the town of its disabled population.

SMOC's federal complaint, which also includes more than 90 exhibits, alleges violations of the Fair Housing Act, federal Rehabilitation Act, Americans With Disabilities Act and Civil Rights Act.

Among the defendants named in the case are Town Manager Julian Suso, Human Services Coordinator Alexis Silver, Selectmen Dennis Giombetti, Jason Smith and Ginger Esty; Planning Board members Ann Welles, Sue Bernstein, Carol Spack and Andrea Carr-Evans; and Town Meeting members Steven Orr, Peter Adams, Cynthia Laurora and Laurie Lee.

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