• A Massachusetts court ordered a Jewish synagogue to install a sprinkler system during a remodeling project. The 20-year-old building was undergoing a $500,000 renovation that included installation of new “hung ceilings.” The remodeling plans (which were approved by the city) did not call for the installation of a sprinkler system. After the remodeling was completed, town officials notified the congregation that the project violated a state law requiring sprinkler systems to be installed during any “substantial alteration” of a building. The congregation asked a court to determine whether or not it violated the state law, and the court agreed with town officials that the law had been violated. The court reasoned that the remodeling affected a substantial portion of the building, with extensive work being done on the ceilings (which would have made the installation of the sprinkler system relatively simple during the construction phase). The congregation was ordered to install a system at a cost nearly double what would have been charged had the system been installed during construction. Congregation Beth Sholom v. Building Commissioner, 537 N.E.2d 605 (Mass. 1989).
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