|SMOC appeals headquarter move's rejection||Friday, Auguest 5, 2008|
|Dan McDonald 508-626-4416||Metrowest Daily News|
FRAMINGHAM -- After the Zoning Board of Appeals rejected the South Middlesex Opportunity Council's proposed move of its headquarters into a manufacturing zone last month, SMOC is appealing the decision in state land court in Boston.
SMOC, which is presently headquartered at 300 Howard St., bought 5 acres at 15 Blandin Ave from NStar in 2005 for about $2.2 million.
While the property was located in a manufacturing zone, SMOC argued the educational nature of their services, which vary from childcare to substance abuse programming to foreclosure prevention workshops, made the move possible under the auspices of a state law commonly referred to as the Dover Amendment.
That provision allows projects that meet a certain criteria -- an educational use being one of those deciding factors -- to skirt local zoning law.
However, Building Commissioner Mike Foley rejected SMOC's proposal, saying the primary use of the organization's headquarters was not educational.
After multiple meetings this summer, the ZBA upheld Foley's decision in August, rejecting the proposal by a 3-0 margin.
SMOC filed its appeal of that decision this week. Taking the town to land court will likely widen an already bitter divide between the organization and some town residents and politicians.
SMOC has already drawn the vitriol of local luminaries after it sued the town last fall, alleging a conspiracy of town officials and residents tried to block the expansion of its programming.
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