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Home Page Letter of Complaint
Subject: Reimbursement for Legal Fees
To: Robert C. Mercier, Town Manager
From: Joseph M. Dougherty
Address: 52 Mount Pleasant Street
Date: July 29, 1997
Location: Town of Billerica, Massachusetts

Dear Mr. Mercier:

I have reviewed your July 25, 1997 response to my letter of June 3, 1997 which requested payment of $4,853.66 to me, $3,600.00 to Margaret Ingraham, $250.00 to Al Ramos, $30.00 to James Swanberry and $501.70 to Attorney June Adams Johnson. This request for payment was consistent with the favorable vote on Article #54 by the May 22, 1997 Town Meeting (see motion below) and it included the required written documentation to support these claimed amounts.

Article 54 of the Spring 1997 Town Meeting: To see if the town will vote to raise and appropriate, the sum of $9,310.00 to reimburse a North Billerica neighborhood group for legal fees and expenses incurred to benefit the general public interest of every citizen of the State of Massachusetts as a result of a precedent setting ruling on July 26, 1996 by "The Appeals Court of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts", Docket No. 95-P-1808, Joseph M. Dougherty v. Billerica Board of Appeals & Anthony R. & Mary Ann Passalaqua, whereby Court decided that the Billerica Board of Appeal acted in excess of its authority and overruled the Billerica Board of Appeal's decision that a four family dwelling could be rebuilt in a single family zone after a fire had destroyed more than 65% of the original dwelling. The general public interest was served statewide by reinforcing that Massachusetts cities and towns can adopt zoning by-laws like Billerica's Zoning By-Law, that defines by percent of damage, when a non-conforming use ends after fires or other perils destroy non-conforming structures. The Town Manager will distribute funds to reimburse expenditures when it can be shown by documentation (e.g. receipts, canceled checks and the like) that expenditures were incurred for this case, or act in relation thereto.

I am somewhat confused by your July 25, 1997 letter and your failure to meet or talk with me, despite dozens of calls to you and numerous personal visits to your office. It is a matter of record that the Town Meeting has already decided to pay this bill and no further expense should have been necessary to reinterrogate Town Counsel for an opinion (emphasis added) on the prudence of paying this bill. Your opportunity, and that of Town Counsel, to advise the Town Meeting assembly on Article #54 was lost when you failed to obtain a recommendation from Town Counsel in advance of the Town Meeting vote on Article #54 (as requested in writing to you) and when you both failed to attend the Town Meeting when the matter was debated. The only question remaining to complete the task of Article #54 was for the Town Manager to determine "that expenditures were incurred for this case". Have you completed this task?

The next step, after the documentation production task, would be for the routine tasks of the Town Accountant to include these payments in the weekly warrant and issue the appropriate number of checks. If it is your decision to formally challenge this warrant and recommend that the Board of Selectmen vote an unprecedented action to subvert the vote of the May 22, 1997 Town Meeting, my neighborhood group would like to be present when the Board of Selectmen debate and vote on this issue. In this regard would you please advise us, with due notice, when the Board of Selectmen will consider, debate and vote on your recommendation to subvert the vote of Town Meeting. I would appreciate a prompt reply to this letter on or before August 6, 1997.


Joseph M. Dougherty,Margaret B. Ingraham & Others

cc: Board of Selectmen & others

Home Page Response to Letter of Complaint
Subject: Reimbursement for Legal Fees
To: Joseph M. Dougherty
Address: 52 Mount Pleasant Street
From: Robert C. Mercier, Town Manager
Date: No Response Provided
Location: Town of Billerica, Massachusetts


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