PROVINCETOWN — Developer Christine Barker will return to the town’s permitting boards with a reconfigured plan for the Old Reliable Fish House property. It will have to proceed anew through the public hearing process.
Barker declined this week to discuss the changes she’s made, saying she must first present the proposal to the planning and zoning boards.
Early last year, both of those boards approved Barker’s proposal for a structure with 31 hotel units, four residential condominium units, a restaurant-bar with parking beneath the building, and reconstruction of a former pier on the abandoned restaurant property.
The project was well received by some residents and businesspeople, who said it would get rid of a dangerous eyesore — the fish house was condemned in 2015 following a fire — provide needed year-round hotel rooms, and bolster the downtown economy. But others said the scale of the development was too large for the site.
Last spring, Barker was forced to put her plan on hold when abutters filed suit in Land Court.
Scott Ravelson, who owns 229 Commercial Street; Robert Anderson, who owns the Canteen restaurant next door; and Patrick Patrick, owner of Marine Specialties, filed suit against the planning and zoning boards, as well as against Barker and H. Bradford Rose, the fish house site’s current owner.
Concerned about the size of the project, the plaintiffs objected to its impact on their properties. They asked the court to annul the variances and special permits issued by the planning and zoning boards, and to issue an injunction preventing current or future owners of the fish house property at 227R Commercial St. from building anything of similar scope and size.
Land Court Judge Michael Vhay initially ordered both sides to try to settle their differences through mediation, but those attempts failed. In September, both sides were ordered to prepare for trial.
In a recent development, Anderson and Barker “reached an agreement on a resolution in concept, which involves a reconfigured design of the project at issue, with a smaller footprint,” according to court documents. Anderson has withdrawn his claims in the case.
Ravelson, Patrick, Barker, and Rose jointly filed motions in mid-January to send the matter back to the planning and zoning boards. Following a Jan. 28 executive session, the two boards notified the court that they had agreed to consider a revised development plan.
The boards have 180 days to hold the hearings and approve or reject the revised plans, under the judge’s order. If approved, it will replace the original design.
If either board denies the requested permits and variances, or court appeals are filed against the reconfigured plan, Barker reserves the right to return to her original plan.
Some tweaks in the reconfigured design will address the concerns of Ravelson and Patrick, according to the court documents, but they, as well as others, would retain the right to appeal any future decisions of the town boards.
Parties on both sides declined to comment for this story.