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Nelson v. Town of Wayland Board of Health

Superior Court of Massachusetts, Middlesex

January 8, 2018

Kenneth T. Nelson
v.
Town of Wayland Board of Health et al.[1]

          Judge (with first initial, no space for Sullivan, Dorsey, and Walsh): Inge, Garry V., J.

          MEMORANDUM OF DECISION AND ORDER ON PLAINTIFF’S MOTION FOR PRELIMINARY INJUNCTION

          Garry V. Inge Justice

         This action arises out of a property dispute between the plaintiff Kenneth T. Nelson (" Nelson") and the defendants Town of Wayland Board of Health (" Board"); Town of Wayland Conservation Commission (" Conservation Commission"); and Charles and Despina Samiotes (collectively, " the Samiotes"). Nelson brings claims against the defendants challenging the Board’s issuance of a well permit to the Samiotes. This matter is before the court on Nelson’s motion for a preliminary injunction to prevent the Samiotes from installing a well. The court held a hearing on December 5, 2017. For the reasons set forth below, Nelson’s motion is DENIED.

         BACKGROUND

         The following facts are drawn from Nelson’s complaint and the materials the parties submitted either in support of or in opposition to this motion.

         John and Karen Perodeau (" the Perodeaus") own an undeveloped parcel of land located at 8 Hill Street, Wayland, Massachusetts (" property"). Nelson and the Perodeaus entered into a purchase and sale agreement under which Nelson agreed to purchase the property. Nelson, wishing to develop the property, acted as the Perodeaus’ agent in proceedings before the Conservation Commission in May 2015. Litigation ensued, and the Appeals Court ultimately affirmed this court’s (Tuttman, J.) October 6, 2017 order, vacating a Conservation Commission decision that would have prohibited Nelson from developing the property. See Nelson v. Conservation Comm’n of Wayland, 92 Mass.App.Ct. 1108 (2017) (Rule 1:28). Notably, the Samiotes objected to Nelson’s proposed development at the Conservation Commission proceedings.

         Meanwhile, in October 2015, the Samiotes applied for and received a permit to construct a well on their property. The Samiotes’ property is located at 65 East Plain Street, Wayland, Massachusetts, and abuts the property Nelson is attempting to develop. The Samiotes assert that until October 2017, they were unaware that the well permit was valid for only two years. As a result, the Samiotes re-applied for a well permit on October 27, 2017, approximately three weeks after the Appeals Court decision referenced above. Wayland’s Director of Public Health, Julia Junghanns, approved the well permit that same day. Nelson asserts that if the Samiotes are allowed to install a well, he will be unable to develop the property.

         Nelson filed this action on November 13, 2017, bringing claims for certiorari review of the Board’s issuance of the well permit under G.L.c. 249, § 4 (Count I); [2] violation of due process (Count II); violation of the open meeting law, G.L.c. 30A, § 18 (Count III); and declaratory relief (Count IV). Nelson now moves for a preliminary injunction to prohibit the Samiotes from installing the well.

         DISCUSSION

         1. Standard of Review

         To prevail on a motion for a preliminary injunction, a plaintiff must demonstrate that it is likely to succeed on the merits and that in the absence of an injunction it will suffer irreparable harm sufficient to outweigh the harm that an erroneous injunction would impose on the defendants. GTE Prods. Corp. v. Stewart, 414 Mass. 721, 722-23 (1993); Packaging Indus. Grp., Inc. v. Cheney, 380 Mass. 609, 617 (1980). A preliminary injunction is a significant remedy that should not be granted unless the plaintiff clearly demonstrates that it is entitled to such a remedy. Student No. 9 v. Board of Educ., 440 Mass. 752, 762 (2004). In balancing the risk of harm, the court considers not so much " the raw amount of irreparable harm the party might conceivably suffer, but rather the risk of such harm in light of the party’s chance of success on the merits. Only where the balance between these risks cuts in favor of the moving party may a preliminary injunction properly issue." Packaging Indus. Grp., Inc., 380 Mass. at 617.

         II. Analysis

         Nelson argues that he is entitled to a preliminary injunction because, among other reasons, he is likely to succeed on the merits of his claims challenging the validity of the well permit the Board issued. This court concludes that Nelson failed to meet his burden of demonstrating a likelihood of success on the merits; and is therefore not entitled to a preliminary injunction.[3]

         Because Nelson’s claims for certiorari review (Count I) and declaratory relief (Count IV) appear to rest on his assertion that the Board violated his due process rights (Count II) and the open meeting ...


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