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Allston Families Hit BRA In First Day of Hearings


Six Allston families yesterday afternoon gained another day in their attempt to avoid eviction by the Boston Redevelopment Authority (BRA) when Judge Francis J. W. Ford '04 recesed the hearing on the case until 10 a.m. today.

At the start of the hearing, however, one of the six original families resisting eviction withdrew its complaint. Counsel for Sanley Zalesky told the court that Zalesky had reached an agreement with the BRA and will accept re-location. This left only five families as plaintiffs gainst the eviction proceedings.

Last night, however, Mrs. Stanley Zalesky denied having given her lawyer permission to withdraw her and her husband from the case. Speaking of her counsel. Mrs. Zalesky said, "He's working with the BRA. I'm going to fire him on the spot." She added that she had no intentions of leaving her home. "I'm going to stay right here," she said.

The families were evicted last Friday by Suffolk County Deputy Sheriffs, but a Federal District Court temporary restraining order, now in effect, permitted them to return to their homes on North Harvard Street.

If the Boston Legal Assistance Project attorneys representing the families can convince Ford that the law on evictions is "possibly" unconstitutional, he will refer the case to a three-man panel of judges for a-nother hearing, said one of the lawyers.

They contend that the law is unconstitutional because it violates the right to due process of law. A vicory before the three-man panel would send the families' case direct to the United States Supreme Court.

In yesterday's hearing Ford rejected a motion by Fleming to refer the case to the panel. Ford said that he would first consider BRA's motion to invalidate the restraining order. He overruled an objection by Fleming that the testimony of the BRA witnesses was "irrelevant" to the constituional question.

The BRA lawyers attempted to show that by not lifting the restraining order in the evictions, the court would be doing"irreparable damange" to the Allston community. Continuing the restraining order, they said. would deprive the area of the 212-unit housing project planned for the North Harvard Street site.

Joseph J. Berlandi, Project Director of the Committee for North Harvard, which is sponsoring the project, stated that a "very tight sehedule" was involved in consrneting the units.

Thomas W. Cornu, president of the Committee, stated that funds would be unavailable to cover the increased costs of a late start, because a Federal Housing Administration (FHA) grant is contingent on the site being clear the first week of November. The contractor who wil build the project, Chester V. Vappi, testified that a delay would involve prohibitive cost increases.

Fleming said that he will call a witness to day from the FHA who will test on the availability of FHA funds after the early November deadline. Fleming stated in court that he expected the witness to explain that FHA extensions are not unusual, and that the agency "has the power" to increase grants in the face of rising costs.

The FHA witness was unavailable yesterday. Court was adjourned to give Fleming time to produce the witness today.

Students opposing the eviction of the families received discouragement Monday night from one of the homeowners. Mrs. Albert Rtdgate. SDS members meeting at Boston's National Headquarters Monday had discussed the possihifity of a rally at North Harvard Street to gather support, but Mrs. Redgate said after the hearing that she wants them to "try to keep it quiet" during the legal proceedings.

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