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Citizens’ ‘standing’ at issue before SJC

‘Private AG’s action’ vs. ‘burdensome’ requirements argued

October 09, 2011
SOUTHBRIDGE — Citizens’ rights to appeal local boards’ “adjudicatory” decisions are now in the hands of the Supreme Judicial Court, after that body heard oral arguments in the three-year-old appeal of Southbridge’s landfill site assignment Tuesday, Oct. 4.

That’s because the major issue the court sought arguments for was whether 10-citizen groups have a right to take cases to court (termed “standing”), and what constitutes whether individuals within such groups are “aggrieved” by a board’s decision.

Plaintiffs’ lawyer Kirstie Pecci of Sturbridge told the justices she believes state law is generally quite strict about that except when there’s potential harm to the environment or public health. To her, some of her clients are directly “aggrieved private individuals” — some live on the trash truck route to the landfill — while all of them are “doing what the state government should be doing” to protect the environment.

“The right to clean air and clean water has not been protected adequately” by the Board of Health’s 2008 decision, she told the court. Moments later, she agreed with one justice’s interpretation that she was arguing for “an equivalent of a private attorney general’s action” for environmental issues.

For more on this story, please see tomorrow's Southbridge Evening News.

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