PROVINCETOWN — Businessman Patrick Patrick and developer Christine Barker each have surveyor’s drawings showing the line between their waterfront properties on Commercial Street. But the two drawings show different locations for that line.
Patrick, who owns the Marine Specialties store next door to the former Old Reliable Fish House — the site Barker proposes to redevelop — filed a complaint in state Land Court on April 25, asking a judge to settle the boundary dispute.
The case has become the latest roadblock to progress on Barker’s plans to construct a 31-unit hotel, four residential condominiums, a restaurant, bar, and meeting space, with ground-level parking and a pier.
Patrick’s claim is that the project will result in a 264-foot pier partially trespassing on land he owns at 235 Commercial St., which runs from the street to the harbor.
To make his case, Patrick cites a survey showing property lines drawn in 1948 and registered in Land Court in 1951.
Barker, who has a purchase-and-sale agreement for the Old Reliable site with owner H. Bradford Rose, relied on a 1968 survey drawn on behalf of the Rose family in laying out her project.
No one disputes the boundaries shown on the registered 1951 survey. But in the years following its registration, sand deposits along the harbor gradually added about 82 feet of beach to each of the properties between the original boundary and the mean high-water mark.
In 1968, the Rose family’s survey extended the property line from the 1948 boundary to include the newly accumulated land. But instead of simply running a straight line from the original common boundary to the harbor, the surveyor adjusted the boundary to reflect the actual occupation of the property. That adjustment shifted the line over the extended beachfront to include remnants of the wharf on the Old Reliable property.
Additional land deposits since 1968 have raised the total of accumulated beachfront even higher, to about 154 feet.
Patrick contends the 1968 plan incorrectly put a triangular piece of his land onto the Rose side of the property line. He argues the boundary line should have extended from the end of the 1948 boundary straight to the mean high-water mark in the harbor.
Patrick hired civil engineer William Rogers, who drew up a land survey based on the 1948 plan and has used Rogers’s survey as the basis for his lawsuit.
Cape & Islands Engineering, the firm Barker used for her proposal, used the 1968 survey for its layout of the Old Reliable site.
According to state Land Court documents, Patrick’s attorneys Alan Lipkind and Peter Vetere of Boston firm Burns & Levinson are asking the Land Court to declare that the beachfront gained since 1948 should be automatically registered to Patrick’s land “based on the true location of the boundary line.”
The attorneys are also asking the court to approve a petition to adjust the 1951 registered land plan to include the additional beachfront, using the extended boundary line set by Rogers; to order the Old Reliable property owner to remove a fence that the attorneys claim currently encroaches on Patrick’s land; and to prohibit future encroachments.
A request that the Land Court judge allow Patrick to record his claim regarding the boundary dispute with the Barnstable County Registry of Deeds, a step that would place a cloud on the Old Reliable property’s title, will be considered at a hearing on May 8.
In a phone interview, Patrick said he has disputed the boundary line since Barker first presented the proposal in 2019. “It’s not a new issue, but it’s remained unresolved,” he said.
The redevelopment proposal for 227R Commercial St. has been held up in Land Court since 2020, when Patrick and two other abutters appealed permits for the project granted by Provincetown’s planning and zoning boards. The other abutters reached agreements with Barker, and Patrick is now the sole appellant in those cases.
While Patrick said he couldn’t discuss the details of settlement talks that have been ongoing with Barker, he said he remains open to settling all the litigation.
Barker said Patrick may have brought up the boundary issue in 2019, but he first produced a survey sometime last year.
“It’s not our intention to build anything on Mr. Patrick’s land,” Barker said. “We have multiple surveyors who disagree with the position he has put forth.”