In this mandamus action, Plaintiff Ridgeley Managment Corporation seeks an order requiring Defendant, the Gosnold Town Clerk, to issue a certificate pursuant to G. L. c. 41, § 81V that a Definitive Subdivision Plan submitted by Plaintiff to the Town of Gosnold Planning Board is deemed allowed because of the boards failure to act thereon in a timely manner.
At its annual town meeting on May 20, 2000, the Town of Gosnold voted to allow the Board of Selectmen to act as the Planning Board. Pursuant to G. L. c. 41, § 81N, that vote had the effect of accepting the Subdivision Control Law. The Planning Board did not adopt rules and regulations at the May 20, 2000 meeting.
Plaintiff desires to subdivide its land and, to that end, filed a Preliminary Subdivision Plan with the Planning Board in mid-May 2008. At the annual town meeting in May 2008, the Town enacted amendments to the zoning bylaw. The Towns Board of Health adopted new regulations after the filing of Plaintiffs Preliminary Subdivision Plan. On July 7, 2008, the Planning Board voted to approve Plaintiffs Preliminary Subdivision Plan. Plaintiff filed its Definitive Subdivision Plan with the Planning Board on December 3, 2008. The Definitive Subdivision Plan was returned to Plaintiff by letter dated February 9, 2009, without any action being taken by the Planning Board, the Board asserting that it did not have jurisdiction to act on Plaintiffs Definitive Subdivision Plan because it had not adopted rules and regulations pursuant to the Subdivision Control Law. The Planning Board did not adopt such rules and regulations until November 13, 2009, nine months later.
On February 18, 2011, a Judgment and Decision were issued in this actions companion: Ridgley Management Corporation, General Partner of Ridgley Farm Limited Partnership v. Planning Board of the Town of Gosnold, et al., Docket No. 09 MISC 394288. In that companion action, Plaintiff had sought a declaration that (1) the zoning amendments adopted by the Town did not apply to Plaintiffs property and (2) that the freeze on the Board of Health regulations imposed by G. L. c. 111, § 127P runs from the date the Board approves Plaintiffs Definitive Subdivision Plan. Plaintiff also sought a mandamus requiring the Planning Board (1) to complete the process of formally adopting rules and regulations and (2) to thereafter approve Plaintiffs Definitive Subdivision Plan without application of the newly adopted rules and regulations. In that action, I held that although the Subdivision Control Law had been accepted by the Town in May 2000 when it voted to allow the Board of Selectmen to act as the Planning Board, the Subdivision Control Law was not in effect when Plaintiff filed its Definitive Subdivision Plan and that the Planning Board had no authority to act on Plaintiffs Definitive Subdivision Plan at the time of its filing. Plaintiff has appealed my decision in the companion case to the Appeals Court.
In the present action, Plaintiff seeks an order requiring the Town Clerk to issue a certificate pursuant to G. L. c. 41, § 81V that its Definitive Subdivision Plan is deemed allowed on the basis that pursuant G. L. c. 41, § 81U, the Planning Board had a statutory duty to take action on its Definitive Subdivision Plan within ninety days after it was submitted (by March 3, 2009) and that it failed to do so.
Defendant argues that this action is barred by the doctrine of res judicata. I agree. The term res judicata embraces several doctrines, including claim preclusion and issue preclusion, under which a judgment in one action has a binding effect in another action. Heacock v. Heacock, 402 Mass. 21 , 23 n.2 (1988). Claim preclusion bars further litigation of all matters that were or should have been adjudicated in the action. This is so even though the claimant is prepared in a second action to present different evidence or legal theories to support his claim, or seeks different remedies. Id. at 23 (citations omitted). In the companion case I found that Subdivision Control Law was not in effect in the Town of Gosnold until the Planning Board adopted rules and regulations on November 13, 2009. Accordingly, I held that the Planning Board had no authority to act on Plaintiffs Definitive Subdivision Plan when it was filed in December, 2008. Because the Subdivision Control Law was not in effect when the Definitive Subdivision Plan was filed, and because the Planning Board had no authority to act on the Definitive Subdivision Plan, as decided in the companion case, the Gosnold Town Clerk (the Defendant in this action) cannot be required to issue the certificate the Plaintiff seeks here. In order for Plaintiff to succeed in this case, it would be necessary for it to demonstrate that the Subdivision Control Law was in effect in the Town of Gosnold when it filed its Definitive Subdivision Plan and that the Planning Board had authority to act on Plaintiffs Definitive Subdivision Plan. These issues have already been disposed of in the companion action. For all the above reasons, the Court ALLOWS the Defendants Motion to Dismiss.
Judgment to issue accordingly.
By the Court. (Trombly, J.)