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Regis College wins ruling from Supreme Judicial Court in fight over retirement community

The Supreme Judicial Court sided with Regis College Tuesday in its long-running battle with the town of Weston over the college’s plans to build a retirement community.

Regis wants to build a 362-unit luxury retirement community and seeks zoning protection under the so-called Dover Amendment, which bestows exemptions for educational facilities.

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Weston has argued that the proposal is primarily a housing development and therefore not eligible for the zoning exemption. The college says its Regis East project would be an educational facility, where the residents, 55 and older, would be required to take at least two courses per semester. The housing would also create internships for Regis students in gerontology and social work.

In a decision released Tuesday, the SJC said that for Weston, the defendant, to win its summary judgment request, the town would have had to show that Regis “has no reasonable expectation’’ of proving its claim. The SJC ruled that Weston did not meet that burden and remanded the case to Land Court.

A Land Court judge had previously ruled that Regis did not qualify for Dover protection.

“We are enormously gratified that the state’s highest court has recognized that our proposed Regis East project, as conceptualized, is entitled to assert legal protection as an educational use under the Dover Amendment, and has remanded the case to the Land Court for further proceedings,’’ Antoinette Hays, president of Regis, said in an e-mail. “Regis looks forward to engaging in discussions with town officials and the community in the prospect of moving forward collaboratively.’’

The college did not specify when it would break ground, saying it would “pursue specific plans for its Regis East development once the Land Court processes are concluded.’’

Lisa Kocian can be reached at lkocian@globe.com.
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