BEVERLY — The state’s highest court has denied the city’s request to hear the Black Cow case, ending a long legal battle over the proposed waterfront restaurant with a resounding defeat for the city.
The decision vacates two state licenses required for the restaurant to be built and forces the city to find another way to redevelop its vacant waterfront land.
“The ruling really kind of closes this chapter,” said Mayor Mike Cahill, who inherited the case from the administration of former Mayor Bill Scanlon. “Now we’re back to the drawing board. We still very much want a restaurant there and public access and enjoyment, but we’ll have to get back to square one to try to work through it.”
The city’s appeal to the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court was its last chance to win a grueling legal fight with Beverly Port Marina, the business next door to the proposed restaurant.
Port Marina owner Frank Kinzie said he is not opposed to a restaurant, but said the city was trying to circumvent rules for developing the waterfront that apply to other property owners in the area.
“Obviously I’m pleased with the decision,” Kinzie said. “The project from the beginning was, I think, done in the wrong way. It was a tremendous waste of both time and money for the city and ourselves.”
The long-running saga began in 2006 when the city requested proposals to lease city-owned land on the waterfront next to the Veterans Memorial Bridge, where a McDonald’s restaurant building has sat mostly unused since it closed in 1994.
Joseph Leone, who owns Black Cow restaurants in Hamilton and Newburyport, submitted the only bid, a proposal to build another Black Cow. In 2010, the state Department of Environmental Protection granted two licenses needed for the project to go forward.