By Stephen Quigley
The long legal battle between the Beacon Hill Civic Association (BHCA) and the City of Boston over handicapped sidewalk ramps on Beacon Hill as proposed by Boston Inspectional Services Department (ISD) took a new twist when the City filed with the Massachusetts Environmental Policy Act (MEPA) office on March 15 to install 36 ramps at 16 intersections on Temple, Pinckney, West Cedar, and Branch Streets.
The fight over the design of the handicapped ramps goes back to February 2012, when City officials announced plans to pave streets in Beacon Hill with Federal grants. As a condition for accepting the grants, the City was required to construct ramps that are required by the Americans with Disabilities Act.
The design of these ramps became the center of the controversy when the Beacon Hill Architectural Commission (BHAC) refused to grant a certificate of appropriateness to ISD for the submitted design of the ramps in November 2012 and stated a preference for ramps more representative of the historic district.
However, the ISD issued a permit in August 2014 to construct the ramps according to their design, citing a public safety need in unspecified areas of Beacon Hill, and ignoring the ruling of the BHAC. Following this, the BHCA filed a lawsuit against the City of Boston.
In March 2015, Judge Bonnie MacLeod, Justice of Supreme Court, basically upheld the legitimacy of the BHCA case by denying the City’s motion to dismiss the suit. The judge said that the City of Boston was required to file an Environmental Notification Form (ENF) with MEPA.
The ENF that was filed on March