In a legal filing to the Massachusetts Superior Court, a group of ten North End/Waterfront residents have turned to the court to challenge a proposed restaurant at the end of Long Wharf. Potential issues raised by the residents include excessive noise, damage to public open space/parkland and impairment of scenic quality on the wharf.
In 2007, the Boston Redevelopment Authority 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. In response to opposition by a resident group, the DEP subsequently denied an appeal on January 15, 2010, clearing the way for the proposed restaurant. At this time, it is unclear if “Doc’s” is still the intended operator of the restaurant. The BRA and DEP are expected to respond to the legal challenge in the next 30 days before the court hears oral arguments on the case.
“The park at issue is located at the seaward (eastern) end of Long Wharf … extensively used by residents and visitors to enjoy marine sights and sounds and for other passive-recreation purposes,” per the legal memo. “It is unique among the wharves and parks in the downtown/waterfront area in the combination it provides of expansive harbor views – surrounded on three sides by water – and a spacious, quiet public space in which to enjoy them.”
The ten residents, as plaintiffs, say 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 addition to Article 97, they cite “errors of law” in the DEP decision regarding the protection of views of the water, compliance with the Municipal Harbor Plan, the water-dependent use zone, and the proper public purpose requirement.
The plaintiffs are listed in the legal memo as Sanjoy Mahajan, Victor Brogna, Stephanie Hogue, David Kubiak, Mary McGee, Anne M. Pistorio, Thomas Schiavoni, Pasqua Scibelli, Robert Skole and Patricia Thiboutot.
Other restaurants/bars already operating on interior/city-side of Long Wharf include Tia’s, the Chart House, the Landing and the Oceana in the Marriott Long Wharf Hotel. There are also several mobile food carts adjoining the wharf near the New England Aquarium and Christopher Columbus Park.