Mass. court: Residents can't block land sale

By the Associated Press | March 12, 2012 | 7:45 PM EDT

BOSTON (AP) — A Massachusetts appeals court has ruled Ipswich residents can't stop the sale of land that has raised millions for the town's public schools.

In 1660, William Payne's gift of 35 seaside acres created the nation's oldest charitable trust. Rent from cottages on the land has helped fund the schools.

Last year, trustees agreed to sell the units to tenants to settle a 2006 rent increase lawsuit. A probate judge and school officials approved, but some residents said it shortchanged the schools.

One plaintiff said Monday the group is disappointed and will study the ruling.

A state Attorney General's Office spokesman said officials are pleased the court decided they'd acted appropriately to protect the trust's assets. He said the settlement the court upheld would restore a revenue stream to the schools.