decision gives the University
the go-ahead to build in Newton
24 days of trial and 22 months of consideration, the Massachusetts
Land Court has ruled in favor of Boston College in its appeal of
a decision by the City of Newton's Board of Aldermen to block plans
for new buildings on the Middle Campus.
The opinion, issued January 22 by Justice Karyn F. Scheier, allows
the University to proceed with construction of three interconnected
buildings, which include a new academic center and a new student
center alongside College Road.
The academic center, to be named the Monan Humanities Center in
honor of former University president and current chancellor J. Donald
Monan, SJ, will provide 223 offices for faculty and staff in the
humanities, as well as lecture and seminar rooms.
The student center will be built on the site of 50-year-old McElroy
Commons, as well as on unoccupied land adjacent to College Road.
It will include an expanded bookstore, dining facilities, offices
for student groups, performing arts practice rooms, and an underground
The buildings have been designed in the English Collegiate Gothic
architectural style of Gasson and Bapst halls. One-third of each
facility will be submerged below street level to lessen the height.
The University is now reviewing plans for the project, originally
estimated at $90 million.
Judge Scheier's opinion is considered an important ruling on behalf
of Boston College's right to build on its own campus. As an application
of the state's Dover Amendment, established some 50 years ago to
protect schools and churches from unreasonable zoning restrictions,
the decision may also have legal implications for religious and
nonprofit educational institutions elsewhere in Newton and throughout
the state. In her decision, Judge Scheier concluded that Newton's
highly restrictive zoning regulations on height, setbacks, floor-area
ratio, buffer zones, and parking were "unreasonable as applied
to the Middle Campus Project," and that the denial of BC's
petition to build was "legally untenable under the Dover Amendment."
University President William P. Leahy, SJ, welcomed the Land Court's
decision. "We are delighted by the judge's ruling," said
Leahy. "I hope that this decision brings an end to a long and
costly process. Boston College looks forward to constructing much-needed
facilities on its land that are appropriate for the campus and the
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