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January 27, 2014

City asks SJC to consider appeal

Beverly wants high court to weigh in on Black Cow decision

BEVERLY — A state agency and two courts have already ruled on the legal battle over a proposed restaurant on the Beverly waterfront. Now the city is asking the state’s highest court to weigh in on the vexing issue.

The city has filed a petition requesting that the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court review an Appeals Court decision that struck down the plan to build a Black Cow restaurant on city-owned land.

A three-judge Appeals Court panel last month ordered the state Department of Environmental Protection to revoke the license the city needs in order for the restaurant to be built.

The panel said the DEP did not properly consider a competing proposal by Beverly Port Marina to build a boatyard on the site, which as one of the state’s designated port areas is governed by rules that encourage water-dependent uses.

The Supreme Judicial Court does not accept all applications for appeals, so there’s no guarantee that it will hear the city’s case.

Mayor Mike Cahill said the lease the city signed with restaurant owner Joseph Leone required the city to file the appeal request. But Cahill said the city is also looking at other options to break the stalemate on the waterfront, where a former McDonald’s restaurant has sat mostly vacant since the city bought the land in 1996.

“We’re working now to determine our best course of action on the waterfront,” he said. “The legal proceedings are part of it, but it’s one part of it. What I’m committed to is trying to get our waterfront to be open and productive for the whole community, including restaurants and shops and a harborwalk. That’s what we really are hoping to get to.”

The plan to build a restaurant has been up against a complicated tangle of regulations that has led to five separate decisions, three in favor of the city and two in favor of Port Marina. At one point, the Department of Environmental Protection ruled one way, then reversed its decision.

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