JP, Charlestown council lawsuits won’t merge

April 3, 2013
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Lawsuits involving the Jamaica Plain and Charlestown neighborhood councils will remain separate after a judge recently denied a motion to merge them, according to Benjamin Day, the plaintiff in the JP case. A court hearing slated for today to review the matter was canceled, he said.

The next court date is April 10, when a Suffolk Superior Court judge will hear a motion to dismiss the JP lawsuit.

In the JP case, Jamaica Plain Neighborhood Council (JPNC) chair Day, on behalf of the council, is suing developer Boston Residential Group and the City’s Zoning Board of Appeals. The JPNC alleges that necessary zoning approvals for a controversial apartment building planned at the former Home for Little Wanderers complex at 161 S. Huntington Ave. were improperly granted. The JPNC claims it can sue because it is a government body, which the defendants deny.

In the two Charlestown lawsuits, groups of residents allege that the Charlestown Neighborhood Council and its redevelopment committee are government bodies that recently violated the state Open Meeting Law. The defendants deny the council has any government status.

The Charlestown plaintiffs sought the merger of the suits, noting that all of the cases involve the question of whether neighborhood councils, which are community groups formed by former Mayor Raymond Flynn in the 1980s, are government bodies. The defendants in all of the cases, as well as Day, opposed merging the suits.

Kevin Joyce, the attorney for the Charlestown plaintiffs, could not immediately be reached for comment.