SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

July 3, 2012

Ruling favors waterfront restaurant

BY PAUL LEIGHTON, STAFF WRITER
The Salem News

---- — Beverly has won another round in its legal battle to allow a Black Cow restaurant on the waterfront, but the long-running dispute might not be over.

A Superior Court judge has denied the latest appeal by the owners of Beverly Port Marina to prevent the restaurant from being built on city-owned property next to the marina, Mayor Bill Scanlon said last night.

Port Marina could file a final appeal with the state Appeals Court. Port Marina owner Frank Kinzie said last night that he had not seen the decision so he could not comment.

If there is no further appeal, Scanlon said construction of the restaurant could begin “almost immediately.”

“We’re very pleased,” he said. “We were expecting this decision, but we’re still pleased to get it. I think it’s proving that it pays to stay the course.”

In a press release, the city said licensing and construction of the restaurant would take about 16 months, meaning the restaurant could open in November 2013.

The plan to build the Black Cow, which would give Beverly its only waterfront restaurant, dates back to 2006. That’s when Joseph Leone, who owns Black Cows in Hamilton and Newburyport, first proposed building one on waterfront land that the city has been trying to develop for decades.

Leone would lease the land from the city at a price that has yet to be negotiated. In his 2006 proposal, he said he would spend $1.5 million to build the restaurant and another $1 million in improvements to the area. The land, next to the Beverly-Salem bridge, has been mostly unused since a McDonald’s restaurant closed in 1994.

Kinzie has opposed the Black Cow plan on the grounds that a restaurant should not be built in an area that the state has classified as a “designated port area,” designed to serve as a working waterfront.

He has said the city is getting special treatment from the state to the detriment of other property owners in the area and that the port area designation should be lifted to open up the entire waterfront to mixed-use development.

Kinzie appealed the granting of two state environmental licenses that are required because of the site’s waterfront location and submitted his own proposal to operate a boatyard there. His appeals and proposal were turned down by the Department of Environmental Protection.

The city said it was notified yesterday that Essex Superior Court Judge David Lowy had denied the latest appeal.

If Kinzie takes his case to the Appeals Court, the project could be delayed for another six to 12 months “but would likely not stop the project,” the city said.

Plans call for a 200-seat restaurant with a deck facing the water. A business called Coastal Discoveries, which takes children out on boats for summer camp, would run out of the first floor. A third-floor loft would include an office and a conference room.

While the restaurant has been delayed, the city has been using state money to do $3.9 million worth of improvements to the two city-owned marinas, the seawall and a deck area leading up to the waterfront.

Staff writer Paul Leighton can be reached at 978-338-2675 or pleighton@salemnews.com.