Environmental group files suit to stop Seaport condo tower

Katheleen Conti, Boston Globe

The Conservation Law Foundation, which has fiercely opposed the development, made good on its threat to sue the state to stop developer Jon Cronin’s $260 million project if it received approval from state environmental regulators. The project, proposed on the site of Cronin’s Whiskey Priest and Atlantic Beer Garden restaurants, got the green light from the state in December.

In its suit, filed Feb. 17 in Suffolk Superior Court, the Boston-based nonprofit alleged that state environmental officials overstepped their legal authority by approving an amendment to the city’s harbor plan density restrictions, allowing for a 22-story high-rise they argue would severely limit public access to the water.

The Conservation Law Foundation charged that Beaton and Suuberg failed in their duties to protect the public’s right to the waterfront and that their decision “has resulted in a public trust property being largely and illegally converted to private use and control,” according to the suit.

“Our hope is that the state will continue to carry out its responsibility to make sure that the public benefits from harbor development, as the law has required,” said Peter Shelley, senior counsel at the Conservation Law Foundation . “We hope this trend toward disregarding the public is stopped. It has become a loophole for private development to build fancy, expensive condominiums and office space. It’s just not right. And it’s against the law.”

The Conservation Law Foundation argues that the project violates state law Chapter 91, which protects the public’s interest and access to the sea and shoreline from non-water-dependent development.

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