Thursday, January 25, 2018

Discussion of the Smith v. City of Westfield Case (Video)

The REBA Environmental Law discusses the state of Article 97 of the Amendments to the Massachusetts Constitution following the Supreme Judicial Court's precedent-setting ruling in Smith v. City of Westfield.

Article 97 protects public land taken, acquired, or designated for conservation purposes by requiring a two-thirds vote of the Legislature before such land may be transferred, disposed of or used for another purpose.

In its Westfield decision, the SJC rejected the notion that land not originally taken or acquired for Article 97 purposes would need a formal recording in the registry of deeds in order to gain Article 97 protection. Reviewing courts have been instructed to consider "the totality of the circumstances" in weighing whether a municipality clearly and unequivocally dedicated land to use by the public as a public park, thereby triggering Article 97 protection.

Our guest speakers are Luke H. Legere, who co-authored an amicus brief on behalf of MACC in support of the Plaintiffs in the Westfield case, Seth Schofield, who authored an amicus brief on behalf of the Attorney General and argued in support of the Plaintiffs in the Westfield case, Kathleen M. O'Donnell, and Robert W. Ritchie.

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