I don’t believe UMASS Lowell Perkins Deal falls under General Law Chap 79A!


Yesterday I mentioned Rep. Nangle’s bill on Non-Profits and how it would or would not affect UMass Lowell. I also wondered why ULowell seemed to be getting whacked more than the MIRA the original developer of the Perkins buildings.

I understand why residents and elected officials are upset but the number of “incorrect” statements and innuendo that has been floating around from people and residents in my view is unfair to ULowell.

Ralph Sutter one of the displaced residents responded to that post with 2 comments that I have combined:

The reason UMass is not receiving a break from the negative publicity in regards to the Perkins acquisition, is because they were in cahoots with the developer Mira from the get-go. Meehan admitted in a WCAP interview that they sold the building to Mira so that they could take advantage of tax credits with the intention of selling it back to UMass always being there. The fact that they sold it to Mira was solely to take advantage of the tax credits…when they knew the building was always going to be sold back to UMass.

This is not whining, it is standing up against immoral practices. Quite a big difference if you ask me.

Secondly, in terms of UMass assisting the Perkins residents…they HAVE to by law. A new owner is responsible for assisting residents who are being displaced from a dwelling under Chapter 79A. The assistance they are currently providing falls well short from what they are supposed to provide under the aforementioned chapter.

First I listened again to the Meehan interview where I thought he made it sound more like it was his understanding that UMAss Lowell would have almost a right of first refusal if the development was sold.

The building was given for FREE so a private developer could rebuild a fire damaged mill that sat unoccupied and un-used and could be redone to generate some taxes and residents for Lowell using Historical Tax Credits.

If in fact a “gentleman’s agreement” existed that included a right of first refusal it is not an uncommon practise. The agreement was BEFORE Meehan was the Chancellor by the way.

I look at this and say had ULowell not given it up the building, it would not have been redeveloped since the State didn’t qualify for the Historic Tax Credits that Mira received. The building was an eyesore and unsafe and many of us who have always lived here remember how awful it was.

I then looked at Chapt. 79 and 79A and I don’t believe that this deal qualifies to be covered under Chapt.79A

Mass Chapter 79 specifically deals with EMINENT DOMAIN and Chapt. 79A deals with RELOCATION ASSISTANCE caused by Eminent Domain.

I’m sure the residents were looking at these sections:

Section 4. At the time of the submission of an application for public approval or funding for a project involving the displacement of more than five dwelling or business units, the displacing agency shall submit to the bureau of relocation a relocation plan. The relocation plan shall show the names and addresses of all occupants to be displaced; the number of individuals, families, and business concerns to be displaced; the date on which such displacement will begin; the needs of the displaced occupants for relocation assistance; the availability of safe and sanitary housing, commercial buildings or sites within the means of occupants to be displaced; a program for their relocation; and a demonstration in accordance with bureau regulations that the relocation agency has coordinated the plan with other planned or proposed land acquisitions in the city or town which may affect the carrying out of the relocation program.

Section 6. After approval has been granted in accordance with the provisions of section five, the relocation agency shall be authorized to carry out the relocation plan. Each relocation assistance program shall (1) fully inform eligible persons at the earliest possible date as to the availability of relocation payments and assistance; (2) supply displaced occupants with information concerning public and private housing programs, commercial sites, and social and economic assistance programs; (3) assist in securing within a reasonable period of time prior to displacement suitable standard replacement housing within the financial means of the families and individuals displaced; (4) assist owners of displaced businesses and farm operations in obtaining and becoming established in suitable business locations or replacement farms; and (5) administer relocation payments in a fair and equitable manner.

UMass Lowell is buying the property from a private developer who willingly is selling it. No Eminent Domain is taking place. They are not TAKING it, they have reached an agreement with the owner who is willingly selling it. They contacted the University, the University is not forcing them to sell.

I don’t believe Chapt. 79 or 79A apply.

I understand the frustration of the current residents but they can’t try to force the University to do what the residents want or think is fair and stating they aren’t doing enough based on a law that doesn’t apply is mistaken, misleading and unfair to ULowell.

UMass Lowell again in my view, is doing everything they can to assist the current residents.

Also despite what Atty. Bob Leblanc stated on WCAP a few weeks ago, namely that the City was withholding releasing copies of a Tiff Agreement with MIRA, Manager Murphy assured me today when I asked about a Tiff and requested a copy that the CITY HAD NEVER GIVEN ONE! No shenanigans being played here.

Lowell elected Officials and residents should look at this transaction and realize that IF ULowell had never released their rights to the building in the first place, the city would have never had those tax dollars to begin with. Now that the University is getting the buildings back YES Lowell loses money in the future but if it wasn’t for ULowell they would not have had any taxes from that building at all.