Court approves sanctions against Planning Board for withdrawn Park Central appeal

by beth on June 21, 2017

A developer’s motion for sanctions against the Southborough Planning Board succeeded this week. A Worcester Superior Court judge approved Park Central developer William Depietri’s motion for the Town to reimburse $4,645.50 in legal expenses.

The ruling was made on Monday, June 19th with copies mailed yesterday, June 20th.* 

I followed up to find out if the Town has decided whether or not to appeal that decision. Town Administrator Mark Purple responded that selectmen can’t comment as they have yet to see the decision.

On Monday night, at the Planning Board’s meeting, the Town Planner updated the board on other appeals related to the project. 

Planner Karina Quinn said that Depietri followed through with his official appeal of the Conservation Commission’s Order of Conditions denial earlier this month. That appeal was made to MassDEP on June 13th. (You can click here to view the letter.) And she told them that the hearing/decision notice from the ZBA’s reversal of Planning’s Site Plan Review denial came in.

No mention was made of the court ruling on their case earlier in the day. (It is possible they weren’t notified yet.)

The approved sanctions stem from an appeal filed by the Planning Board jointly against Depietri and the Zoning Board of Appeals last summer. The board was seeking to overturn a decision on the Park Central development project by the ZBA. Planning claimed that the ZBA improperly usurped their authority over Site Plan Review. 

At the time, Planning was denied access to special counsel by selectmen in pursuing a case against another Town board. After repeated attempts to secure special counsel failed, Planning withdrew their case.

Depietri continued to press for recovery of legal expenses. A first motion on the matter was dismissed in February – apparently on a technicality. Depietri filed a new motion in April.

At Annual Town Meeting, Town Counsel Aldo Cipriano told voters that Depietri’s motion was harassment and intimidation of a Town board. Based on that, he recommended selectmen to allow Planning access to special counsel for defense. That was approved. 

On June 1st, the court held a hearing on the matter and took the motion under advisement.

The Board of Selectmen are scheduled to meet this Thursday evening and Planning Board on Monday. Discussion of the decision isn’t on either agenda. (Selectmen do have an executive session scheduled, but that is specified as covering a real estate decision.)

*I do not have a copy of the decision – only the official public posting of docket text by the court: 

ORDER: ON WILLIAM DEPIETRI’S MOTION FOR SANCTIONS- ORDER: For the above stated reasons, the defendant, William Depietri’s motion for sanction is ALLOWED against the plaintiff Southborough Planning Board in the amount of $4,645.50. Copies mailed 6/20/17.

The “above stated reasons” referred to were not included on the court’s public website.

{ 11 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Abutter June 22, 2017 at 8:59 AM

Here is another example of how the town governing board continues to be reactionary instead of proactive and remains one step behind. If the planning board had the advice and counsel last year when it requested it, they could have been guided through this process and potentially avoided being on the losing end of this decision. In addition to the $4600 in legal fees to Mr. Depietri now, there is going to be likely further appeals and expenses.
This is just the beginning with now the Con Com decision being appealed to the DEP and more legal expenses looming on the horizon for both the town and residents. Could a lot of this have been avoided if the board of selectmen had taken an active role in this project early on instead of hiding their head in the sand? I guess we will never know……

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2 Djd66 June 24, 2017 at 5:24 AM

$4600 in legal expenses? Wow, his lawyer is really cheap! I would have thought is would be north of 6 figures.

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3 Louise Barron June 27, 2017 at 8:53 PM

Residents of our illustrious town. Did you know that, Zoning law does not allow the awarding of legal fees. This must be appealed. Now that the ZBA is being sued by Capital Group. How will our counsel handle this one.

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4 Matthew Brownell June 28, 2017 at 3:28 PM

Yes, now Capital Group has gone completely Ga-Ga, issuing a baseless lawsuit against each member of the Southborough ZBA over the hideous, ass-backward, and totally unsafe development known as Park Central.

How ironic. Capital Group is NOW suing some of the very ZBA members who have consistently genuflected, performed triple-backward somersaults, and taken multiple space-shots around the Dark Side of the Moon to awkwardly jam a 100-acre, land-locked 40B and 40A development into an area where it CLEARLY presents a known, irreversible, patently dangerous traffic hazard to Southborough’s neighboring residents.

To deny the safety issues and ecological plundering of this proposed project is to go beyond the mere delusional, and into the neighborhood of the permanently surreal.

Once again, I am saddened and disappointed by the predictable silence and inaction of
our Selectmen on the Park Central issue.

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5 beth June 28, 2017 at 3:36 PM

I’m not sure if you misread my post or if you learned about a new suit I’m unaware of.

The sanctions referred to above are against the Planning Board – not ZBA. They are based on a suit that Planning had filed against both Park Central and the ZBA.

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6 Matthew Brownell June 28, 2017 at 6:16 PM

Beth –
Just to update, Park Central LLC and William DePietri are named as Plantiffs in a new lawsuit, which was filed on June 19th in Land Court (also received by the Southborough ZBA on June 19th.)

The defendants of listed in this lawsuit are all the members of Southborough’s ZBA:
Andrew Dennington
Deborah Demuria
Paul Depranos
Craig Nicholson
David Williams

Shoot me your e-mail address, and I’ll forward to you a copy.

Thx.

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7 beth June 29, 2017 at 8:11 AM

Readers can always reach out to me at mysouthborough@gmail.com.

Thank you.

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8 YY June 29, 2017 at 10:28 AM

Among the listed defendants, I think only Paul Depranos was part of the 3 who approved the comprehensive permit.

I think these are the ZBA members that voted (it wasn’t uniamous) to deny constructive approval but remand it back to Planning Board. I am guessing a remand would keep the use variance in limbo (my personal opinion is the use variance expired based on layman reading of it) while upholding Planning Board’s rejection would outright kill the use variance (developer has to start completely again)? Based on May 19, 2017 post, Town Counsel Aldo Cipriano said he’ll defend the Planning Boards right to do a full site review so the only part of the use variance that is really undisputed is the ability to build residential housing on almost entirely industrially zoned plot.

I wonder if these ZBA members knew this was coming, would they had chosen to uphold Planning Board’s rejection or not… Although this ZBA did disagree the use variance expired so maybe not (to me remand but use variance expired vs. starting all over seems to have same effect)…

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9 Abutter June 28, 2017 at 9:33 PM

The ZBA is now being sued as well because they did not agree with Capital Group’s claim that the plans are constructively approved. Once again, when Mr. Depietri doesn’t get his way, he threatens and strong arms, bullies people until he does get his way.

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10 Matthew Brownell June 29, 2017 at 10:37 AM

Kind of reminds me of the neighborhood football games I played as a kid. If the game wasn’t resulting in the desired outcome for the neighborhood Brat, he would take his football, go home, and then send his older brother over to beat the stuffing out of us.

The Southborough Planning Board did NOT “Constructively Approve” the Park Central Site Plan last Fall. They denied/rejected it, which is entirely and appropriately within the Planning Board’s legal authority and administrative responsibility.

So, obviously bent-out-of shape over the decision, Park Central / Capital Properties Group sues the members of Southborough Planning Board.

Swell.

Then, in an open Southborough ZBA meeting 6 -8 weeks ago, the attorneys for Park Central / Capital Properties Group appealed to the ZBA, asking them to make a decision that the Park Central Site Plan was “Constructively Approved”. In fact, the Park Central attorneys actually recommended that the ZBA strip the Planning Board of all Park Central Site Plan review and approval/disapproval authority, and MOVE it to the ZBA!!! ( I am told this would be completely illegal )

The ZBA then kicked the can down the road, “remanding” the Park Central Site Plan back to the Planning Board for re-consideration.

Thoroughly frustrated, Park Central LLC and William DePietri are NOW also suing Southborough’s ZBA members.

Excelsior.

A ridiculous amount of time consuming and costly gymnastics over a land-locked parcel, that, if allowed to ingress/egress onto Flagg Road, will deliver irreparable harm and unacceptable risk to Southborough’s residents.

Let’s be absolutely clear – the Park Central was purchased in the full knowledge that it is LAND-LOCKED. The only current ingress/egress to the parcel is via Park Central Drive, off of Rt. 9W at Cumberland Farms.

After Mass DOT denied Rt 9 access for the planned Park Central project via this same drive, the Developer is now backed into the corner of having to build a new ingress/egress point for Park Central – onto a narrow country lane (Flagg Rd) that is patently ill-equipped to accommodate the resulting car/ truck traffic.

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11 Kolenda July 8, 2017 at 10:45 AM

Hi Dan,

Where are you? What are you going to do about the mess you guys have allowed and stood behind. How does Cipriano act as co-counsel against citizens with the park central attorneys and defend the town against them at the same time! Are we going to wake up and do what’s best for the town or try to continue to secretly back Dipietri? Time to act or walk away….

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