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Mass. SJC Ruling a Victory for Real Estate Industry

In the case of St. George Greek Orthodox Cathedral of Western Massachusetts, Inc. vs. Fire Department of Springfield, the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court found that the statewide building code pre-empted a more restrictive local ordinance. In 2006 the City of Springfield passed a local ordinance that limited the type of fire suppression system to one type, despite the fact that the building code allowed for four alternatives. In addition the ordinance required the removal and replacement of any of the other three systems whose use is permitted by the state building code.

This decision represents a win for private property rights against excessive regulations. The result of this case not only vindicates the Greater Boston Real Estate Board’s efforts involving a similar situation in the City of Lowell, but has implications at the State House. Legislation currently pending at the State House to dramatically expand the powers of local fire officials may be viewed less favorably as a result of this decision.