Allegations of Eminent Domain and FEMA Fraud Surface in Somerville Accusing Mayor Curtatone of Orchestrating & Rubber Stamping Development Deals


By William Tauro

Allegations surfaced that Somerville Mayor Joseph Curtatone is abusing his power by enforcing eminent domain laws in an elaborate plot to defraud residents of parcels of land of their property. 
Eminent Domain, The power of the government to take private property and convert it into public use. The Fifth Amendment provides that the government may only exercise this power if they provide just compensation to the property owners.
Property owners are accusing Mayor Curtatone with allegations of illegally taking a ten foot long section of adjoining parcels of all their backyards along the rear of the 630 Mystic Avenue area via eminent domain then later transferring them to a developer that now has an ongoing development project on Mystic Avenue.  
The property owners also allege that the city then transferred the properties to the developers via a rubber stamp by the Somerville Zoning and Planning Boards.  
The multi unit apartment building development’s rear section of the building now sits on the line of ten’ foot parcels taken by the eminent domain.  
The properties in question that the 10′ foot of sections of land was taken from are located behind the Mystic Avenue development are addressed and located on Ash Street in Somerville.  
The allegations also accuse the city of Somerville receiving FEMA money for the area where it sits in a flood zone that wasn’t used as planned. The FEMA money was not for intended to be used for personal use but a pool for flooding.
An unnamed neighbor stated “FEMA funds were used for studies and conclusions were not addressed. If proven, that is the alleged violation of fraud– they took the money and did not use it in the way it was intended. You cannot be conducting random studies and not following up with recommendations.”

Another concern to neighbors in that area is that the new apartment complex development now being built there is in a flood zone. 
Neighbors concerns are that the developer received an approval from the city and are building an underground parking garage in that flood zone disregarding FEMA laws. 
 

Mystic Avenue is a highly vulnerable area of the city and could be subject to severe flooding.
Any excavation would need to be properly monitored and studied before any new projects can be built in this region.
 A former Somerville alderman/attorney named as one of the principals/contacts on the development project are named on a lawsuit in Woburn Superior Court as well as the City of Somerville in this matter.

The map below shows that it is zone 4, and 5 being worst.

The important details are listed below and there is also a map on the front page of the document which shows the flood zones in shaded areas, Mystic Ave is zone 4.
Fema provides federal grant funds to conduct flood studies which include remapping the city. The maps show the areas which are vulnerable to flooding.
However, allegedly the unnamed neighbor stated that “the city does not follow through with FEMA recommendations and the planning board is responsible for investigating proposed developments in these areas.”
On page 32 of the document, there is a section on Landslides. The projects are being built in high water table zones and excavating in these locations. There are also underground garages built on the Mystic Avenue project. 
This story is still developing…
Please click and read attached Hazard Mitigation Plan link below: 

http://www.somervillema.gov/sites/default/files/hazard-mitigation-plan.pdf

Leave a Reply