Pinnacle at Central Wharf (Harbor Garage) | 70 East India Row | Waterfront | Downtown

stellarfun

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I can look it up on masscourts if you know the names of the parties.
I tried using Conservation Law Foundation as a party name for Suffolk Superior Court, civil division, and didn't get a result I was looking for. I suspect Commonwealth of Massachusetts is the defending or responding party. I tried Harbor Towers as a party and got a number of cases, but none related to this decision.

The answer may be in the dockets of this division of the Superior Court, the business litigation session.
but I could not find dockets.
 

Rover

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Haven't read the ruling but it appears to be a temporary hold up for the MHP. DEP just needs to approve the plan as opposed to having the Secretary do it, probably adds another 6 months to the process, nothing more.
That's what I was thinking as well. Any legal beagles out here who can add some clarity? The ruling seems to be that a different agency needs to sign off. So, get them to sign off and call it a day.
 

JeffDowntown

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Big picture issue here is that the ruling basically voided something like 40 Massachusetts harbor development plans, up and down the coast. This is not just about Boston. It has huge coastal development implications.

The only good news in this is that the impact is big enough, and broad enough, that there might be legislative relief, albeit in 6-9 months (nothing is fast that way).
 
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stellarfun

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https://www.mass.gov/doc/301-cmr-23-review-and-approval-of-municipal-harbor-plans/download

This is a link to the Commonwealth's regulation governing development of municipal harbor plans. On quick glance, it appears to be poorly drafted. In several sections, the roles of the Director of the Office of Coastal Zone Management and the Secretary appear to be intermingled.

https://www.mass.gov/doc/310-cmr-900-waterways-regulations/download

This is a link basically to the implementing regulations for Chapter 91 of the General laws, which governs, inter alia, construction of buildings on tidelands, e.g., the Harbor Garage site.

See 310 CMR 9.11 (2) (b) (3) [pdf p. 27] on the DEP's role in review and approval of Municipal Harbor Plans. There is no mention of the Secretary, nor of the Office of Coastal Zone Management. There is a reference to the "Governor's signature", a phrase not otherwise defined in the regulation. At this point I gave up, saying to myself, 'What a pair of fucked-up regulations, written to subsidize a whole coterie of lawyers, judges, and state functionaries.'
 

tobyjug

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An expensive (from a fee perspective) “tactical” victory that achieves nothing strategically.* The “reach” is not likely to be far at all. The statute of limitations to appeal other such “flawed” approvals likely has run. Plus the Secretary could ratify this decision on remand after “due” consideration and the case is back, but on the merits.

* NB if your opponent has shallow pockets you can exhaust that party with the legal cost of tactical fights if you have the resources to do so. A favorite approach if you are weaker on the merits but stronger on the legal budget. Takes a big balled “win at all costs” client though.
 

curcuas

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Need more of those bond laws to prevent these type of lawsuits. Housing Choice was a good first step there.
 

citydweller

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If the proposed tower "Pinnacle at Central Wharf" ever sees the light of day, then the property value at the neighboring Harbor Towers will go up. I don't see why they would be opposed to it. Their view of the harbor will be unchanged.
 

Patrick Winn

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If the proposed tower "Pinnacle at Central Wharf" ever sees the light of day, then the property value at the neighboring Harbor Towers will go up. I don't see why they would be opposed to it. Their view of the harbor will be unchanged.
They'll lose their parking spaces, hence the "environmental" challenge to this project. It's a bad joke. Shame on CLF for supporting this pseudo-environmentalism.
 

Patrick Winn

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I tried using Conservation Law Foundation as a party name for Suffolk Superior Court, civil division, and didn't get a result I was looking for. I suspect Commonwealth of Massachusetts is the defending or responding party. I tried Harbor Towers as a party and got a number of cases, but none related to this decision.

The answer may be in the dockets of this division of the Superior Court, the business litigation session.
but I could not find dockets.
I found it on masscourts. CLFs motion for summary judgment is on there but it's 97 pages so I can post it. Here's the case info:
  • 1884CV01431 Conservation Law Foundation Inc vs. Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection
I think this article provides a good summary as well: https://www.bostonglobe.com/2021/04...or-plan-sending-don-chiofaro-back-square-one/

Sounds like the judge has created a change in how these projects get approved state-wide. The judge's ruling could be undone immediately by legislation; otherwise, developers will have to follow the opinion.
 

stellarfun

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1884CV01431
1884CV01431
Wrong case #.
That case is about Wheelabrator Saugus. CLF is plaintiff. Harbor Towers is not even a party.

From the Globe article,
The state could appeal the ruling, but Small said another option is to change state law to clarify who approves municipal harbor plans, as was done following a 2007 ruling by the Supreme Judicial Court on a similar case involving a site near the Charles River that was once water but later filled in.
This is the link to the 2007 case:

This case involves North Point's 48 acres; it does not involve a Municipal Harbor Plan. And as one can now observe daily, North Point is being developed..

A salient paragraph from the decision of the SJC regarding North Point/
The department [DEP] has limited resources and does not believe that the de minimis impact of development on landlocked tidelands on the Commonwealth's waterways merits the regulatory burden of licensing projects thereon. See 310 Code Mass. Regs. §§ 9.00. We must give deference to the department's "expertise and experience." Massachusetts Inst. of Tech. v. Department of Pub. Utils., 425 Mass. 856 , 867 (1997). We must also, however, presume that when the Legislature amended G. L. c. 91, § 18, in 1983, it did so recognizing the administrative burden imposed by subjecting all nonwater-dependent projects on filled tidelands, landlocked and otherwise, to the licensing requirement, and that the Legislature deemed this burden acceptable for the resulting protection of the public interest. Should the Legislature decide otherwise, it may, of course, enact legislation that it deems appropriate to relinquish these public interests, as it has done on previous occasions.
 

stellarfun

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stellarfun

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I quickly read the decision, which relies, in large part, on the SJC 2007 decision on North Point.

The quickest solution would be to change the law either to make the Secretary's determinations and approval of a Municipal Harbor Plan binding on the DEP, and not simply advisory, or to allow the DEP to delegate to the Secretary its approvals related to a Municipal Harbor Plan..
 

rjacobs

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Joan Vennochi goes to bat for Chioifaro.
Question for the board: to the best of anyone's knowledge, what is Kim Janey's most likely 'personality' when it comes to Chiofaro's project (and Hook, and the dozens of other projects held up on account of this ruling)? Or are her views somewhat irrelevant unless she runs/wins the position this Autumn?

(And as a passing aside: I really wish the Globe would do its job by addressing the actual implications of development here, instead of leaving any impression that there's a real-world option to a tower in order to tear down a parking garage and bury a new one underground, etc.).
 

Tension Member

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Today's ruling is a huge win for Giant horrendous concrete blocks that block the waterfront and are just in general massive eye sores and total wastes of space. Yay Concrete Blocks!!!! May you Always be a sacred and eternal part of our noble city!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
With this ruling, it looks like the Chiofaro Tower and the Hook Lobster Hotel tower will never be built (as I figured would happen). So, is there is way to foment a movement/concerted effort by legal means of course to start a process to raze the Harbor Tower buildings? These monstrosities offer absolutely nothing to the to the urban landscape in the city of Boston, and at 396 FT and 400 FT in height, these concrete nightmares are grotesquely in violation of the State ruling that buildings must be 55 FT maximum in height if within 100 FT horizontal of the waters edge. I believe that grandfathering should not be applied here as these Brutalist bunkers somehow got through the gate so to speak without anyone paying attention to environmental rulings which most likely existed at the time when these hideously ugly residential towers were built. I think the existing garage structure should be razed as well with Chiofaro receiving eminent domain payments for the land, the towers should come down, and the residents of these concrete bunkers be granted eminent domain payments too to relocate hopefully out of the city - too bad about their losing their precious views of the Custom Tower, boo hoo infants. Once razed to the ground, make a very nice park at the site, and as for the Aquarium, let them worry about the loss of parking. Perhaps they can relocate to another part of the city or even out of Boston itself and set up shop in a more suburban locale where parking is possibly an easier go without need of an unsightly vertical parking structure such as the one now ungraciously despoiling the urban vista currently. For the record, there was an aquarium long ago located in South Boston, and maybe a return to South Boston or even to Quincy somewhere close by to Marina Bay would be advantageous. Moreover, from an architectural engineering standpoint, the reinforced concrete structure of this Brutalist NE Aquarium fish tank box is more than likely being eaten away by its abrupt proximity to the harsh coastal environment with its salty seawater atmosphere quintessentially harmful to the structural integrity of both concrete and steel reinforcing bars. As well, hopefully the same structural degradation is occurring within the twins as well - they MUST come down one way or another!

But, I strongly urge the powers to be (we the people?) to focus mainly upon taking down the Harbor Tower Bunkers! As for the Hook site, maybe a fishing museum, park and boardwalk should be built there - that site cannot remain in its current state in perpetuity as it is monumentally unsightly in lockstep with its monstrous twin cousins further north along Atlantic Avenue.
 
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Vivanna

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With this ruling, it looks like the Chiofaro Tower and the Hook Lobster Hotel tower will never be built (as I figured would happen). So, is there is way to foment a movement/concerted effort by legal means of course to start a process to raze the Harbor Tower buildings? These monstrosities offer absolutely nothing to the to the urban landscape in the city of Boston, and at 396 FT and 400 FT in height, these concrete nightmares are grotesquely in violation of the State ruling that buildings must be 55 FT maximum in height if within 100 FT horizontal of the waters edge. I believe that grandfathering should not be applied here as these Brutalist bunkers somehow got through the gate so to speak without anyone paying attention to environmental rulings which most likely existed at the time when these hideously ugly residential towers were built. I think the existing garage structure should be razed as well with Chiofaro receiving eminent domain payments for the land, the towers should come down, and the residents of these concrete bunkers be granted eminent domain payments too to relocate hopefully out of the city - too bad about their losing their precious views of the Custom Tower, boo hoo infants. Once razed to the ground, make a very nice park at the site, and as for the Aquarium, let them worry about the loss of parking. Perhaps they can relocate to another part of the city or even out of Boston itself and set up shop in a more suburban locale where parking is possibly an easier go without need of an unsightly vertical parking structure such as the one now ungraciously despoiling the urban vista currently. For the record, there was an aquarium long ago located in South Boston, and maybe a return to South Boston or even to Quincy somewhere close by to Marina Bay would be advantageous. Moreover, from an architectural engineering standpoint, the reinforced concrete structure of this Brutalist NE Aquarium fish tank box is more than likely being eaten away by its abrupt proximity to the harsh coastal environment with its salty seawater atmosphere quintessentially harmful to the structural integrity of both concrete and steel reinforcing bars. As well, hopefully the same structural degradation is occurring within the twins as well - they MUST come down one way or another!

But, I strongly urge the powers to be (we the people?) to focus mainly upon taking down the Harbor Tower Bunkers! As for the Hook site, maybe a fishing museum, park and boardwalk should be built there - that site cannot remain in its current state in perpetuity as it is monumentally unsightly in lockstep with its monstrous twin cousins further north along Atlantic Avenue.
Sounds like a plan.

Anyway, this is just a technical setback for Chiafaro and Hook, pretty confident that if the MA SJC doesn't overturn this ruling then there will be a legislative fix. I think the bigger concern is the delay but with a new injection of stimulus the economic cycle could well be extended for a few years.
 

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