SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

Local News

March 12, 2014

No more 'working waterfront'?

Beverly will ask state to eliminate port designation

BEVERLY — With a big loss in court behind them, city officials are charting a new course in an attempt to revitalize the waterfront.

Mayor Mike Cahill said yesterday the city will seek to remove the designated port area classification that ultimately doomed the Black Cow restaurant plan.

The director of the Massachusetts Office of Coastal Zone Management, the agency that oversees DPAs, is scheduled to visit Beverly next week.

“We have a strong belief that, for the most part, our DPA does not function as a DPA is intended to function,” Cahill said. “There’s no real marine industrial use down in our DPA.”

The state created 11 designated port areas in 1978, including the one in Beverly, in an effort to preserve the few areas in the state that could serve as working waterfronts. The rules regarding DPAs discourage developments like condominiums and retail shops that would interfere with commercial fishing, shipping and “other vessel-related activities” linked to manufacturing.

Those regulations led to the downfall of the city’s plan to lease the Glover’s Wharf property for construction of a Black Cow restaurant. An Appeals Court judge ordered the state Department of Environmental Protection to deny the city a permit needed for the restaurant plan, saying the state agency failed to consider another proposal for a boatyard that would have been more suited to a working waterfront.

Last week, the state’s Supreme Judicial Court declined to hear the case, ending the city’s legal options and sending them “back to square one,” Cahill said.

The alternative plan calls for eliminating the designated port area, something that has never happened before, according to Coastal Zone Management. Gloucester has applied to have its designated port area modified, but not completely eliminated.

Kathryn Glenn, the North Shore regional coordinator for Coastal Zone Management, said the agency will re-examine the boundaries of a DPA if a community requests it.

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