TRURO — Six residents who were suing the town and the developer in an attempt to halt the proposed Cloverleaf affordable housing project on Highland Road have decided to withdraw from the case, leaving 10 who continue to pursue it.
Rosemary Broton Boyle, Susan Grace, Helen Torelli, and John, Mary and Brianna Bobola “are unable to continue as plaintiffs in the matter,” writes attorney David Reid in the stipulation of dismissal he expects to file with the court on behalf of his clients this week. Once the judge approves the stipulation, the six will be formally dismissed from the case.
None are talking about why they decided to pull out or when they asked Reid to remove them. At least one made the request two months ago.
Grace, Torelli, and Boyle were contacted by a reporter but declined to comment on the reasons for their decision. Grace did say in an email that last week’s article in the Independent, in which she was listed as a plaintiff, “set off a trigger of nasty calls” to her home.
A message was left for John Bobola, but he did not respond.
Attorney Reid also declined to comment, other than to say, “They asked to withdraw for personal reasons.”
The appeal of the comprehensive permit, granted for the 39-unit affordable project under the state’s Chapter 40B housing statute, had initially been filed in Superior Court in February. The suit was brought against the members of the zoning board of appeals and Community Housing Resource, the Provincetown development company that was awarded the project by the town.
The case was shifted to the state Land Court in June. A tentative trial date has been set for the week of April 18, 2022.
Earlier this month, Truro officials and Ted Malone, president of Community Housing Resource, invoked a new provision in the state’s housing choice law that allows judges to order those who appeal permits for affordable housing to post bonds of up to $50,000. It is aimed at discouraging frivolous suits. The town and Malone asked the Land Court judge to require a $50,000 bond in the Cloverleaf case.
If the court grants the request and the neighbors lose their appeal, they also lose their bond money, which would go toward covering the town’s and Malone’s costs, including the increasing cost of building the Cloverleaf as time passes.
Reid, who called the bond request “totally unjustified,” said he didn’t think the threat of a bond was the reason that the six residents decided to back out of the case.
Reid focused partly on a legal technicality in filing his opposition to the bond with Land Court on Monday. He argued that the new provision in state law “doesn’t expressly apply to appeals of comprehensive permits under Chapter 40B.”
“While the insertion of this new paragraph into section 17 may have been part of a larger bill dealing with various issues relating to the promotion of affordable housing, the paragraph itself makes no reference to ‘affordable housing’ or appeals of ‘comprehensive permits,’ ” Reid stated in his filing.
If the town’s and Malone’s contention that the legislature’s intent was to facilitate affordable housing and that the bond provision was meant specifically to discourage appeals of comprehensive permits is correct, “one would think they would have no difficulty in adding words to this effect in their bill,” argued Reid.
He further argued that the costs claimed by the town and Malone as the basis for their motion “do not constitute ‘costs’ awardable within the scope of the act.”
In another filing made by Reid on Monday, he asked the judge to dismiss the town’s request for an injunction against Christine Maxwell, barring her from using a driveway on the town’s Highland Road property as an access from Route 6 to her property next door.
Reid argued the matter should not be part of the court case. The issue is a “simple trespass that has nothing to do with the permit or the appeal,” he wrote.
In order for some of the plaintiffs to withdraw from a suit, the opposition — in this case the town and Community Housing Resource — must sign off, saying they are not opposed to the change.
The attorneys for the defendants confirmed Tuesday that they had signed off on the stipulation so that it could be filed with the court.
It had not yet been listed among the court documents at this week’s deadline.
The next status hearing on the case is set for Nov. 8. The judge can act on the various requests from both sides prior to that date or wait to consider arguments during the hearing.
The 10 residents who are continuing with the suit are Lauren Anderson, Abby Lynn Corea, George Dineen, Barbara Golding, Samantha Hayman, Joanne Hollander, Donald Horton, Alice Longley, Eve Turchinetz, and Christine Maxwell.