BRA Wins Court Ruling on Boston’s Long Wharf

March 19, 2013
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The attempt by 10 North End residents to try and block a restaurant from coming to Boston’s Long Wharf has been overruled by the state’s highest court last week.

Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court (SJC) ruled in favor of the Boston Redevelopment Authority (BRA) in the case of Mahan v. Department of Environmental Protection. The decision by the SJC places the BRA one step closer to allowing a restaurant at a vacant MBTA vent structure on Long Wharf in the North End.

“We are pleased with the SJC’s decision on Long Wharf,” said BRA Director Peter Meade. “It paves the way for yet another great destination on the edge of the Boston Harbor that will be  enjoyed by residents and visitors for decades to come.”

The BRA took the Long Wharf property by eminent domain in 1970 to revitalize the area and promote real-estate development. “The decision reasserts that the BRA is legally empowered to do important urban renewal work that adds to the economic vitality of our city,” said Meade. “Long Wharf is a key location that will be discussed during the BRA’s Municipal Harbor Planning study that launched this week.”

In 2007 the BRA was set to lease the property to Michael Conlon’s East Drink Laugh Restaurant Group. Conlon  planned to build a 4,655 sq. ft. restaurant called “Doc’s Long Wharf”. The proposed project was to provide a waterfront restaurant with outdoor cafe tables.

Some North Enders felt the parcel was protected open space and parkland and sought to block the BRA’s attempts to grant the lease and approve a restaurant at the location.

A group of 10 North End residents argued that a restaurant at the location would “create unnecessary noise and would damage public open space, parkland, and scenic quality.”

In 2010, ten North End residents filed a lawsuit against the BRA asserting that any changes to the use of any part of Long Wharf required a 2/3 vote of the Massachusetts Legislature to approve.

They argued that BRA-owned Long Wharf site was “public waterfront parkland” and was protected under Article 97 of Massachusetts law. Article 97 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 2011 the Suffolk County Superior Court ruled in favor of the residents.

The BRA appealed that decision to the SJC, leading to last week’s ruling in favor of the BRA.

  • itsnoteasybeinggreen

    Yet more evidence that we must ABOLISH THE BRA. “Some North Enders” felt the parcel was parkland? The BRA put a plaque on this site designating it as “Long Wharf Park.” The BRA took the land to make it a park. The City has it marked as a park protected by Article 97. But since the BRA is in the real estate development business as well as in the government regulation business, they suddenly found — when a customer came along — that it’s not really a park, just a land-bank for its eventual enrichment. By this court’s own criterion, long-standing use as a park, it would have confirmed Long Wharf as a protected space. But courts generally favor government over individuals; indeed, the BRA, a rogue outlaw if ever there was one, always brags that it is bullet-proof in court. People, it’s time, long past time, to BURN YOUR BRA and be free of this predatory parasite. Let’s dissolve it and restore some semblance of democratic governance here, after a half-century of quasi-racketeering and legalized corruption.

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