Worcester v. nonprofits

There is no doubt that Worcester values its institutions of higher learning. City leaders frequently boast of the educated work force the colleges and universities have produced. But those same leaders have also shaken their heads in frustration with the schools that have tax-exempt status and the legal ability to flout zoning laws.

As those nonprofit schools have increased their tax-exempt property holdings in recent years, the burden of funding the city government and services has shifted more and more onto the rest of Worcester’s property owners, a Telegram columnist recently noted.

The Dover Amendment — a Massachusetts law — exempts educational corporations from heeding certain zoning restrictions, giving colleges and universities license to build structures in residential areas, if they so choose. And they sometimes do.

Some city councilors are at work on ways to rein in the roaming schools, the Telegram columnist notes. One councilor said Cambridge and Boston have similar statutes that enable the city to restrict schools from building in areas zoned for residential use.

As anyone who has developed property can tell you, zoning disputes can be one of the most frustrating areas of city government. Zoning regulations, land use restrictions and neighborhood objections can all slow or stop development and redevelopment projects.

Finding an attorney who knows the law and the zoning code, as well as the neighborhoods and City Hall can be key to successful property purchases and development. Please see our Land Use & Zoning page to learn how the business attorneys of Seder & Chandler can assist you in an array of Boston municipalities.