April 2, 2019
N.E.3d 243] Zoning, Educational use.
Education, Zoning. Words, "Educational
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), Boston,
for the plaintiff.
R. Talerman for town of Lincoln & others.
C. Fee, Boston, for Arthur Anthony & others, was present but
did not argue.
Fierro, III, Boston, for Association for Behavioral
Healthcare, Inc., & others, amici curiae, submitted a brief.
H. Ellsworth & Julia Prochazka, Boston, for Disability Law
Center & another, amici curiae, submitted a brief.
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 [131 N.E.3d 244] 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, 968 N.E.2d 347 (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, 567 N.E.2d 916 (1991).
Other programs .
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.