Appeals Court Reaffirms Ruling in Melville Ave. Case

A state appeals court has upheld a 2003 Suffolk Superior Court decision ordering the destruction of a Melville Avenue home that has pitted neighbors against each other and stirred passions in the normally staid area.

The January 14 ruling sided with plaintiffs' request that a 99 Melville Ave. home, built in violation of existing zoning codes, come down. The court ruled that the Zoning Board of Appeals "acted in excess of its authority" in granting a variance that was "promptly" contested by several neighbors.

Anthony and Jacqueline O'Flaherty built the single-family house aware that some neighbors opposed it, the decision said. But the appeals court expressly left room for further legal action based on subsequent changes to the zoning code.

Yvonne Ruggles, lead plaintiff in the suit and wife of city development spokesman DeWayne Lehman, declined comment, referring questions to attorney Barbara Gruenthal.

Gruenthal called the ruling "what we expected," and said her clients were pleased with it.

Efforts to reach the O'Flahertys this week were not successful.

City Councillor Charles Yancey, in whose district the disputed house sits, did not immediately return phone calls seeking comment.

But Councillor Maureen Feeney, whose district boundary lies blocks away, has been an outspoken supporter of the O'Flahertys, and on Monday ripped their opponents.

"What is going to be gained by tearing that house down?" Feeney asked. She said she was "disgusted beyond words" with the process.

"I have never been so ashamed to represent Dorchester," Feeney said.