Posted by: Patricia Salkin | June 3, 2016

First Circuit Court of Appeals Holds Property Owners Waived Challenge to District Court’s Conclusion that Regulatory Taking Claim was Barred Based on Ripeness

The plaintiff-appellants are property owners who privately lease units in Worcester, Massachusetts, to students from the College of the Holy Cross. They brought suit alleging that defendant City of Worcester, through its zoning and code enforcement officials and entities, engaged in a scheme, starting in 2009, to selectively enforce the Worcester Zoning Ordinance and the state Lodging House Act, Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 140, §§ 22–32. This enforcement caused College Hill to reduce the number of tenants per unit from four to three. However, the alleged purpose of this selective enforcement was to pressure Holy Cross to make voluntary payments in lieu of property taxes to Worcester, presumably because of the pressure from reduced student housing. The property owners filed § 1983 action in state court alleging that city officials’ enforcement of zoning ordinance prohibiting renting to more than three unrelated adult occupants and state lodging house act violated their equal protection and due process rights under Fourteenth Amendment and state law, and constituted regulatory taking. Officials removed action to federal court and moved to dismiss. The United States District Court for the District of Massachusetts granted the motion to dismiss. The district court held that College Hill’s regulatory taking claim was barred based on College Hill’s failure to fulfill the ripeness requirement. Since College Hill did not develop a challenge to this conclusion on appeal, any challenge to it was deemed waived. The court then summarily affirmed the district court’s grant of the defendants’ motion to dismiss College Hill’s 42 U.S.C. § 1983 claims based on substantive due process and equal protection violations as well as its claim that the defendants violated the Massachusetts Civil Rights Act.

College Hill Propreties, LLC v City of Worcester, 821 F. 3d 193 (1st Cir. CA 5/11/2016)


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