The United States Court for the District of Massachusetts has dismissed claims against a planning board and two of its members. The plaintiffs claimed the right to access a privately-held parcel of land slated for development as a commercial solar array. They also sought an investigation of the property prior to construction by a tribal historic preservation officer. The Shutesbury Planning Board had issued a special permit in connection with the project.
The Court held that the plaintiffs, some or all of whom are of Native American ancestry and members of the Syncretic Spiritualists of the Northeast Church, lacked standing to pursue their claims pursuant to the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act, Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966, an ancient land deed, and allegedly “encoded” policies of the Town of Shutesbury. The Court also held that the complaint did not identify any action by the municipal defendants that caused any harm suffered by the plaintiffs as a result of having been denied access to the property by its owners and developers.
For more information regarding Cachat-Schilling, et al. v. Town of Shutesbury Planning Board, et al., please contact Nancy Frankel Pelletier, Esquire or David S. Lawless, Esquire.