ACLU Looking at St. James Purchase
Land use restrictions have caused the state branch of the ACLU to take notice.
Due to use restrictions in the sale agreement of the property, The Massachusetts branch of the American Civil Liberties Union is checking into the sale of 900 Worcester St. – The St. James The Great property.
The potential sale restricts future use of the property from becoming a stem cell research facility, an abortion clinic or a site where assisted suicide is performed for 90 years. An ACLU lawyer told Boston.com that this may be a case in which religion would dictate how a town uses public land.
“This is the government accepting a restriction on what the public can do with this property and on what the government can do with it based on canon law,” Sarah Wunsch, staff attorney for the ACLU, told Boston.com. “That is allowing a religious entity to control what the public can do with public property.”
At a April 23 Board of Selectmen meeting, town counsel Al Robinson opined that the restrictions are typical of a land exchange between a governmental body and the Catholic Archdiocese and that the site would likely never become an abortion clinic, stem cell research facility or otherwise restricted property as stipulated by the Archdiocese.
A June 13 Special Town Meeting will decide if the town purchases the property.