FROM THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE DISTRICT OF
MASSACHUSETTS Hon. William G. Young, U.S. District Judge
Benjamin B. Tymann, with whom Tymann LLC - Law &
Compliance was on brief, for appellant.
A. Padolsky, with whom Douglas I. Louison and Louison,
Costello, Condon & Pfaff, LLP were on brief, for
appellees Town of Wenham, Jeremy Coffey, Anthony M. Feeherry,
and Shaun Hutchinson.
Thompson, Selya, and Kayatta, Circuit Judges.
KAYATTA, Circuit Judge.
Lawrence Miller challenges under both state and federal law
the manner in which the Town of Wenham, Massachusetts (the
"Town") has chosen not to prohibit a company named
110, Inc. from operating a substance abuse treatment facility
on land that abuts Miller's residence. After Miller filed
this lawsuit in Massachusetts Superior Court, the defendants
removed it to federal court, and then moved to dismiss
Miller's complaint under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure
12(b)(6). The district court determined that the complaint
failed to state a claim under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 for the
deprivation of property without due process. The court also
dismissed one state law claim as moot, and remanded a
remaining state law claim to state court. For the following
reasons, we affirm the dismissal of the federal claim, vacate
the determination that one state law claim is moot, and
otherwise affirm the remand of the remaining state law claim
to state court.
this appeal is from a decision granting a motion to dismiss,
we take as true the well-pleaded allegations as they appear
in the complaint. Guerra-Delgado v. Popular, Inc.,
774 F.3d 776, 780 (1st Cir. 2014).
resides at 66 Topsfield Road in the Town of Wenham. His
property abuts property used by 110, Inc. On that abutting
property sits a single-family home with a carriage house.
Both properties are located within the Town's Residential
District. According to Miller, under the Town's zoning
by-laws, commercial facilities, multi-family housing, and
lodging houses are not allowed, either by right or special
permit, in the Residential District.
fall of 2013, 110, Inc. approached the Town Administrator and
the Town Planner about opening a substance abuse treatment
facility on the abutting property. 110, Inc. argued that it
did not need to secure a special permit, variance, or any
other discretionary approval from the Town to operate such a
facility on the abutting property. Rather, it contended that
its proposed use of the abutting property would be by right
under the so-called Dover Amendment, Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 40A,
§ 3, ¶ 2, which provides preferential zoning
treatment to religious and educational uses of land. 110,
Inc. claimed that its proposed land use fell under the
educational category and that it was, therefore, exempt from
any Town board permitting process.
November 17, 2013, the Town's lawyer informed the Town
Administrator that he had accepted 110, Inc.'s assertion
that the Dover Amendment applied to 110, Inc.'s proposed
land use. Soon thereafter, a Town official informed 110, Inc.
that it could open for business. The Town officials reached
this decision without holding a public hearing and without
informing Miller or any other Town resident.
end of April 2014, Miller observed that 110, Inc. was
operating a substance abuse treatment facility named Cross
Keys Retreat next door to his residence. Miller promptly
filed with the Town's Building Inspector (who was also
the Town's Zoning Enforcement Officer) a Request for
Zoning Enforcement pursuant to Mass. Gen. Laws. ch. 40A,
§ 7, ¶ 1. Miller's request stated that the
treatment facility was operating as a commercial operation
that housed up to fourteen people at a time, and was
therefore not compliant with the Town's zoning by-laws
that restricted such land use in the Residential District.
Miller supported his request with legal memoranda and other
documentation arguing that the facility was not covered under
the Dover Amendment and, even if it were, that it was still
subject to reasonable restrictions that could be imposed by
the Town after a public hearing. At bottom, Miller argued
that the Town's unilateral, non-public approval of 110,
Inc.'s use was unlawful.
5, 2014, the Building Inspector held a public meeting to give
interested parties an opportunity to be heard on the question
of whether 110, Inc.'s operation was protected under the
Dover Amendment. On July 2, 2014, after considering the oral
statements and written submissions made by counsel for 110,
Inc., Miller, and members of the public, the Building
Inspector granted Miller's request to enforce the zoning
ordinance against 110, Inc., finding that the facility was
not an "educational use" under the Dover Amendment
or otherwise permitted by that statute or the Town's
zoning by-laws. The Building Inspector therefore ordered the
facility to cease operations, but stayed the order to allow
110, Inc. to appeal the decision to the Town's Zoning
Board of Appeals ("ZBA").
Inc. responded by first filing a complaint in the U.S.
District Court for the District of Massachusetts. In its
complaint, 110, Inc. alleged that the Town, in addition to
violating the Dover Amendment, had illegally discriminated
against the facility's residents under the Federal Fair
Housing Act ("FHA"), 42 U.S.C. § 3601 et
seq.; the Americans with Disabilities Act
("ADA"), id. § 12101 et
seq.; and Chapter 40A, section 3, of the Massachusetts
General Laws. Compl. at 6-8, 110, Inc. v. Town of
Wenham, No. 14-cv-13013 (D. Mass. July 16, 2014), ECF
No. 1. In addition to seeking compensatory, declaratory, and
punitive damages and relief, 110, Inc. also filed an
"emergency motion" seeking an injunction barring
the Town from interfering with 110, Inc.'s operation of
the facility and enjoining the Town from requiring it to
appeal the Building Inspector's decision to the ZBA.
Motion for Emergency Injunctive Relief at 2, 110, Inc. v.
Town of Wenham, No. 14-cv-13013 (D. Mass. July 16,
2014), ECF No. 3.
29, 2014, the district court held a hearing in 110,
Inc.'s case against the Town on the emergency motion and
decided to hold an expedited trial on the merits of 110,
Inc.'s claims, which it set for September 3, 2014. A few
days later, on August 1, 2014, 110, Inc. appealed the
Building Inspector's decision to the ZBA. After holding a
public hearing and considering numerous written submissions,
the ZBA denied 110, Inc.'s appeal on September 3, 2014,
agreeing with the Building Inspector that 110, Inc.'s use
of the facility did not qualify as an "educational
use" under the Dover Amendment.
request of the parties in 110, Inc.'s case against the
Town, the court continued the September 3 trial date to the
end of September. During this time, the Town and 110, Inc.
entered into settlement discussions. On September 5, 110,
Inc.'s counsel submitted a written request to both the
Town Administrator and Building Inspector requesting a
"reasonable accommodation" under the ADA and FHA.
This request set no limitations on 110, Inc.'s proposed
use of the property as a substance abuse treatment facility,
except that it capped at fourteen the number of clients for
whom 110, Inc. could provide services at any one time.
days later, on September 9, counsel for an investor in 110,
Inc., who held title to the parcel on which the company
operated, sent a demand letter to the Town Administrator,
Town Counsel, and Special Town Counsel, claiming that the
decisions by the Building Inspector and the ZBA had caused
him financial loss and threatening to bring a separate
lawsuit against the Town if it did not allow the facility to
continue its operations. On September 11, the Town relented,
and the Building Inspector signed 110, Inc.'s
"reasonable accommodation" request. This act,
Miller alleges, was done on the advice of the Town's
lawyers for the purpose of resolving the ongoing federal
litigation brought by 110, Inc. and to avoid the further
litigation that had been threatened by the owner of the
abutting property. ...