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Federal judge says Framingham must allow facility for disabled kids

Posted by John C. Drake March 12, 2007 10:56 AM

FRAMINGHAM

A federal judge has ruled that Framingham's board of selectmen was wrong to deny Wayside Youth and Family Support Network a permit to build a driveway for a facility for adolescents with emotional and learning disabilities.

Calling the board's May 2006 decision "arbitrary and capricious," US Magistrate Judge Leo T. Sorokin ordered selectmen to work with Wayside to develop a traffic plan that will allow the facility's construction to go forward.

The board's May ruling overruled a recommendation by the town's director of public works to grant the organization a permit to access the public way from its property.

In a series of public hearings, neighbors said they worried about the impact the facility would have on traffic. They also said they were concerned about allowing a center for troubled teens into their neighborhood.

In its complaint challenging the board's decision, Wayside alleged that the town was discriminating against the disabled and that its decision violated Dover Amendment protections for educational facilities. The complaint also alleged that the board's decision violated Wayside's right to have access to the street from its property

The judge did not address the discrimination issue and did not rule on whether the facility was protected by the Dover amendment. Still, Sorokin ruled that the board's permit denial was not supported by evidence. He ordered both sides to report back on their progress toward reaching an agreement by May 22.

-- John C. Drake

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