Dear Billy T and Somerville Speakup Line,
Good Morning President Ballantyne (cc City Council, City Solicitors, and Somerville Matters),
I have read the email below from Assistant City Solicitor Grossfield, giving an opinion on whether MGL c 40C (Historic Preservation State Law) is the legal basis for Somerville’s proposed Demolition Delay Ordinance. Thank you for sending it.
While I agree with him that the “legal basis” is not the same (that was never really a question to me), I disagree with him that MGL c 40C does not control.
The legal basis of the Demolition Review Ordinance (as Attorney Grossfield correctly stated) is the “Home Rule” Amendment, but the proposed Home Rule ordinance is in conflict with MGL c 40C (which it cannot be, according to State limitations on Home Rule Amendments).
As such, I believe a court would strike down the legitimacy of Somerville’s Proposed Demolition Review Ordinance (intended to protect historic structures), since it would be in conflict with MGL c 40C.
Somerville is “effectively” creating a “City-Wide” historic district, and the fact that they are not naming it a “historic district” is actually irrelevant, since the effect is the same.
A court can see through deceptive semantics.
Respectfully, I hope that is taken into consideration, as a lawsuit will surely be filed if the proposed amendment is not in line with MGL c 40C.
Keep in mind….I love Historic Properties…..not ordinary homes. And that is why MGL c 40C exists.
Dr. Mouhab Z. Rizkallah