A group of neighborhood residents, locally known as the “North End Ten,” scored a major win in Superior Court against the Boston Redevelopment Authority (BRA). The action stops the development of a proposed 220-seat waterfront restaurant, Doc’s Long Wharf, on the end of Boston’s Long Wharf, subject to a possible appeal. In a June 10, 2011 ruling, shown below, Judge Elizabeth Fahey agreed with the North End Ten’s arguments and voided a Chapter 91 license granted to the BRA by the State’s Department of Environmental Protection (DEP).
The North End Ten, as plaintiffs, argued the BRA-owned space on Long Wharf is “public waterfront parkland” and therefore protected by State law Article 97 which states that “agencies shall not change the control or use of any right or interest in Article 97 land” without approval by the State Legislature.
In 2007, the BRA announced a lease to “Doc’s Long Wharf,” for an enclosed 4,655 square-foot waterfront restaurant with outdoor cafe tables. The BRA was granted a license by the State’s Department of Environmental Protection under Chapter 91 laws. The North End Ten appealed to the DEP, but that was subsequently denied on January 15, 2010, clearing the way for the proposed restaurant.
In late 2010, the North End Ten turned to the court system to pursue their case based largely on protection under Article 97. Potential issues raised by the residents include excessive noise, damage to public open space/parkland and impairment of scenic quality on the wharf.
Doc’s Long Wharf’s owner Michael Conlon was recently given a 60-day extension by the Boston Licensing Board to resolve the non-use of its alcohol license at the 80 Long Wharf space. The delay was to allow for the Superior Court ruling. Conlon is also co-owner of the Paramount and 21st Amendment in Beacon Hill.
The BRA and DEP may appeal the ruling. Another alternative would be to go through the State Legislature per Article 97, similar to the process used to lease out the Pink Palace space on Boston Common and the Duck House in the Back Bay Fens.
The Massachusetts Superior Court judgement on the case is shown below.
As a follow-up, the following documents are available for viewing: