Heard: April 2, 2019.
action commenced in the Land Court Department on November 15,
2016. The case was heard by Karyn F. Scheier, J.
Supreme Judicial Court granted an application for direct
C. Tillotson (M. Patrick Moore, Jr., also present) for the
R. Talerman for town of Lincoln & others. Michael C. Fee,
for Arthur Anthony & others, was present but did not
Benjamin Fierro, III, for Association for Behavioral
Healthcare, Inc., & others, amici curiae, submitted a
Felicia H. Ellsworth & Julia Prochazka, for Disability
Law Center & another, amici curiae, submitted a brief.
Present: Gants, C.J., Lenk, Gaziano, Lowy, Budd, Cypher,
& Kafker, JJ.
question before us is whether the plaintiff's proposed
residential program for adolescent males falls within the
meaning of the Dover Amendment, G. L. c. 40A, § 3,
second par. If so, it is exempt from certain zoning
restrictions because the land and buildings would be used for
"educational purposes." The plaintiff, The McLean
Hospital Corporation (McLean), purchased 5.5 acres of land in
the town of Lincoln (town), intending to develop a
residential life skills program for fifteen to twenty-one
year old males who exhibit extreme "emotional
dysregulation." The program would allow these
adolescents to develop the emotional and social skills
necessary to return to their communities to lead useful,
purchasing the property, McLean, a nonprofit institution,
wrote to the town's building commissioner explaining the
proposed use, and seeking a determination whether the project
could proceed as of right, pursuant to the Dover Amendment,
see G. L. c. 40A, § 3, second par., and its local
analog, section 6.1(i) of the town's bylaw. The building
commissioner replied in writing that the proposed use was
educational, and that McLean could proceed under the Dover
Amendment and the bylaw. After the purchase, however, a
number of nearby residents challenged the decision before the
town's zoning board of appeals (board). The board decided
that the program was medical or therapeutic, as opposed to
educational, and reversed the building commissioner's
determination. McLean initiated an action in the Land Court
challenging the board's decision. After a four-day trial,
a Land Court judge determined that the proposed use was not
primarily "for educational purposes, " under a
novel theory that attempted to distinguish between life
skills that are "focused outward" and those that
"look inward." McLean appealed, and we allowed
McLean's petition for direct appellate review.
conclude that, 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.
See Regis College v. Weston, 462
Mass. 280, 286, 291 (2012). Accordingly, the decision of the
Land Court judge must be vacated, and the matter remanded for
entry of a judgment in favor of McLean.
recite the essentially undisputed facts found by the trial
judge, supplemented occasionally with uncontroverted facts in
the record. See Vaiarella v. Hanover
Ins. Co., 409 Mass. 523, 524 (1991).
plaintiff currently operates a smaller version of the planned
program, known as the "3East program, " at its
campus in Belmont, as well as a similar program for girls.
McLean also operates a program for adults with emotional
disorders, who are transitioning back into the community from
a hospital setting, at another location in the town; that
facility is a protected educational facility under the Dover
Amendment, G. L. c. 40A, § 3, second par. McLean wants
to move the 3East program from its already cramped quarters
in Belmont to the newly purchased land in Lincoln so that it
can increase the number of adolescents that the program
serves, from six to twelve at any given time.
3East program's curriculum is designed to instill
fundamental life, social, and emotional skills in adolescent
males who are deficient in these skills, who experience
severe emotional dysregulation, and who have been unable to
succeed in a traditional academic setting. Many of the
residents have been diagnosed with borderline personality
disorder; all have varying degrees of emotional
dysregulation. Some have a ...