United States District Court, D. Massachusetts
MICHAEL J. MARONEY, as TRUSTEE OF PREMIERE REALTY TRUST and MARONEY CONSTRUCTION COMPANY INC., Plaintiffs,
JAMES J. FIORENTINI, and ROBERT E. WARD, Defendants.
ORDER ON DEFENDANTS' MOTION FOR JUDGMENT ON THE
L. Cabell, U.S.M.J.
matter arises from a long-running dispute between residential
developer Michael Maroney and various individuals and
departments connected with the City of Haverhill (“the
City”).Maroney needed certain permits to advance a
subdivision project, but the City refused to issue them.
Frustrated, Maroney sued several entities in state court,
see Maroney v. City of Haverhill Planning Bd., No.
1577-CV-001251 (Mass. Essex Sup. Ct. filed July 23, 2015),
and then initiated the present action while the state court
action was still pending. The state court action was subsequently
resolved on the merits in the defendants' favor.
Defendant Fiorentini, who was not a defendant in the state
matter, and defendant Ward, who was, move for judgment on the
pleadings on the ground that res judicata bars the present
claims because they are similar to those raised in the state
court matter. (D. 61). For the reasons that follow the
defendants' motion will be ALLOWED in part and DENIED in
The Parties and the Development
around 2009 Maroney purchased land in Haverhill to build the
Crystal Springs Cluster subdivision, a project that was to
include 50 residential lots on Back Nine Drive and Front Nine
Drive. (Amended Complaint, D. 51 ¶ 9). While subdivision
approval was pending, the City received a professional
evaluation indicating that the homes on Front Nine Drive
would have inadequate water pressure to satisfy city
standards for home and fire flow. (Id. ¶ 11).
To address this problem, the plaintiff entered into an
agreement with the Haverhill Planning Board to construct and
install municipal ways and services, including a water
booster station. In exchange, the Planning Board agreed to
release lots for construction as they became serviceable,
i.e., when the property was ready to receive utility
services. (Id. ¶ 10).
plaintiff completed the homes on Back Nine Drive, for which
he received all required permits. (Id. ¶17).
The City Water Department refused to issue him permits for
Front Nine Drive, however, because the water pressure and
fire flow issues for that part of the development had not
been addressed. (Id. ¶19).
The State Court Action
effort to compel the City to issue the needed permits, the
plaintiff brought the state court action against the
City's Planning Board and various
departments. (D. 51, ¶ 22). The complaint asserted
claims for breach of contract, breach of the duty of good
faith and fair dealing, and misrepresentation, and sought as
relief damages, a declaratory judgment that the plaintiff had
satisfied all necessary permitting requirements, a writ of
mandamus compelling the City to issue the necessary permits,
and an injunction enjoining the City from refusing to issue
the permits. (Id.).
response, City Building Inspector Richard Osborne
counterclaimed for violation of the Massachusetts Residential
Building Code and the City Zoning Law, and all defendants
moved for summary judgment on the plaintiff's claims as
well as Osborne's counterclaims. The plaintiff in turn
filed a cross-motion for summary judgment on Osborne's
state court denied the plaintiff's motion and granted the
defendants' motions in their entirety. See Memorandum
of Decision and Order (Feb. 12, 2018)
(Memorandum). (D. 62-1). The state court made the
following findings of fact among others in so doing:
1. The City's water reports determined in 2009 that
certain lots on Front Nine Drive would not be serviceable
-i.e., ready to receive all utilities- because of inadequate
water pressure. Id. at 5-6.
2. Maroney initially proposed building a water booster
station to address the City's water pressure concerns,
and Maroney's engineer acknowledged the need for a water
booster station. Id. at 4.
3. Maroney agreed with the City that the booster station was
necessary to meet water pressure and hydrant flow
requirements. Id. at 17.
4. The City Planning Board's approval of the subdivision
plan for the subdivision included documents from the Water
Department about the need for the water booster station.
Id. at 5.
5. In September of 2009, Maroney asked the City for
permission to build homes on Back Nine Drive (“Phase
I”), which did not need enhanced water pressure, before
constructing the water booster station. The Water Department
and the Planning Director agreed to this request so long as
those homes did not require water boosting. Id. at
6. Maroney agreed to build the water booster station before
beginning construction of the homes on Front Nine Drive
(“Phase II”), but he never built the station.
Id. at 19.
7. In May of 2013, Maroney submitted a water boosting station
plan to the Water Department, which made comments and
revisions. Thereafter, Maroney never submitted a water
boosting station design found acceptable by the City.
Id. at 12.
8. After completion of Phase I, Maroney began building Phase
II homes on lots the City had deemed unserviceable without
first having built the water booster ...