“Dover” Protections Don’t Extend to Hospital Program: Don Pinto Quoted in Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly
A Massachusetts Land Court judge has determined that a proposed residential program teaching “coping skills” to adolescents with “Borderline Personality Disorder” was not exempt from town zoning laws under the Dover Amendment.
The Dover Amendment, G.L.c. 40A, §3, “bars cities and towns from blocking the use of land owned by nonprofit entities for educational or religious purposes.” The court found that the proposed program on property owned by plaintiff McLean Hospital and zoned residential-only, was essentially “therapeutic” rather than “educational.”
Firm real estate partner Donald R. Pinto, Jr., who has handled hundreds of cases in Land Court, stated, “For practitioners looking to fit their client’s project into the Dover box, this decision suggests that programs aimed at curing or alleviating psychological disorders or other forms of mental illness won’t qualify.”