Posted by Jeremy Shulkin
We knew it was coming, and now it’s official: At 9:00 am today (Wednesday) attorney Burton Chandler of Chandler and Seder filed a lawsuit against the city of Worcester and the Historical Commission on behalf of Aditya Tibrewal and Elizabeth Todd, the homeowners of One Montvale Rd. Worcester Mag has obtained a copy; here’s a run-down:
The suit orders a preliminary injunction that “the city of Worcester and the Worcester Historical Commission are preliminarily enjoined and restrained from taking any action with respect to the advertising of the zoning change or any other action that may effectively place the Tennis Court Parcel in the MLHD [Montvale Local Historic District],” citing five counts of violations.
Count 1 revolves around the idea that the tennis court itself has no historical significance, and that even proponents of the district’s expansion admitted this.
Count 2 argues that since Councilor Barbara Haller, a member of the Economic Development Committee last year, missed the meeting where arguments by proponents and opponents were given in front of the subcommittee, she should not have been allowed to vote.
Under the laws of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, all members of The Committee who vote must have attended all of the hearings that preceded the vote for the vote to be valid if the vote is on a matter that is judicial or quasi-judicial in nature…therefore the vote of Councilor Barbara Haller was improper and illegal and the subsequent vote of the full Worcester City Council was improper and illegal…[and] was a deprivation of the civil rights of the Plaintiffs.
Count 3 brings up Open Meeting Laws, saying that when Councilor Haller attended the second committee meeting–where the subcommittee came to a vote in favor of expansion–she said that she “had been informed of what had taken place at the prior meeting.”
If this is true, the information was given to her in a closed session which was not publicized and not published and the public was not invited to attend. This is a violation of the Open Meeting Law.
Count 4 says that “only a miniscule portion” of the tennis court can be seen from a public street, which will be argued that it falls under the provision that the Historical Commission “should not consider ‘interior arrangements or architectural features’ not subject to public view.” It goes on to say:
The clear inference from this language is that a significant portion of the Tennis Court Parcel must be open to view from a public street and because only a miniscule portion of the Tennis Court Parcel is visible from a public street, it is not eligible to become a part of the MLHD.
Count 5 asserts that the city acted “in bad faith” and that “the Plaintiffs have been deprived of the economically viable use of the said Tennis Court Parcel and the value of the said Parcel has been greatly diminished.”
The lawsuit shows that the plaintiffs are asking the court to void the ruling over the tennis court parcel and that since the city has violated the plaintiffs’ property, constitutional and civil rights Worcester should pay their attorney’s fees “or such other relief as to this Court seems just.”
A hearing is scheduled for Tuesday, Jan. 19 at 2:00 in courtroom 20.