Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court Rules in Favor of Greek Orthodox Church

The state’s highest court today ruled in favor of St. George Greek Orthodox Cathedral of Western Massachusetts in a legal dispute with the city of Springfield over a fire detection system.

In a decision by Judge Barbara A. Lenk, the state Supreme Judicial Court upheld a Hampden Superior Court judge’s 2010 ruling that supported the church’s fire detection system installed at its cultural center in 2009.

The court said the church complied with an option in the state building code and that the state code preempts a city ordinance. Under the city ordinance, the city sought to require the church to install a particular type of detection system allowed in the state code.

If the city ordinance were allowed to stand, it could sanction the development of different applicable building codes in each of the state’s 351 cities and towns, precisely the result that the state code was intended to prevent, the court said.

“If all municipalities in the Commonwealth were allowed to enact similarly restrictive ordinances and bylaws, a patchwork of building regulations would ensue,” the decision said.

The city of Springfield attempted to require the church to comply with an ordinance that mandates a type of fire detection system. The church installed a system that complied with the state code but not the city ordinance. The church eventually sued the city in Hampden Superior Court, seeking to invalidate the ordinance and a $3,000 fine for failure to comply. The fine was $100 a day for each day the violation existed.

(source: mass live)


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