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  • Writer's pictureJulio Ricardo Varela

Why Massachusetts AG Involved Civil Rights Division in Milton Zoning Vote Lawsuit

 MBTA Milton Outbound Platform (Hutima/CC BY-SA 4.0 DEED)
MBTA Milton Outbound Platform (Hutima/CC BY-SA 4.0 DEED)

Earlier this week, Massachusetts Attorney General Andrea Joy Campbell filed a lawsuit against the town of Milton "for failure to comply with the MBTA Communities Law," according to a media release.

The zoning lawsuit was the latest development of a contentious housing and zoning issue that many in Milton (including myself, a town resident since 2001) have been following for months. On February 14, 54 percent  (5,115 voters) of those who voted in this suburb directly bordering parts of Boston rejected the MBTA zoning article that Milton Town Meeting approved in December 2023. Before the February vote, Campbell warned that a lawsuit would be pending if voters rejected the article Milton Town Meeting had previously approved.

With Milton's elected officials and residents continuing to debate the merits of the vote and the politics of the lawsuit (this week's Select Board was at times divisive), I noted in a very popular Milton Facebook group that the AG's Civil Rights Division was part of this lawsuit, which also included attorneys from the office's Constitutional and Administrative Law Division. A few group members asked me why the Civil Rights Division was involved, and I said I would ask the AG's office why.

This is what I sent to the AG's office on February 27 after receiving the lawsuit media announcement:

Thank you for this information. I will not be able to attend the press conference today as much as I want to, but I have one question for the AG's office:

Can you elaborate on why an attorney from your office's Civil Rights Division was assigned to the team that will work on this case? I couldn't find a reason in the actual lawsuit, and I hope the AG can clarify why this decision was made. I promised my readers in Milton that I would ask and report back with an answer.

On March 1, this is what the office shared with me on background:

"The Civil Rights Division was involved in the Milton lawsuit because AG Campbell believes that housing is not only a civil right but also that zoning practices that prevent access to affordable housing disproportionately impact vulnerable groups that our Civil Rights Division is committed to protecting. It is very common in the work of the Attorney General’s Office to have cross-collaboration between different divisions."


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