PROVINCETOWN — An appeal of the planning board’s approval of the workforce housing development known as the Barracks will remain in Barnstable Superior Court. Lawyers for the developer, Provincetown businessman Patrick Patrick, and the town had asked to move the case to the Mass. Land Court, where, they argued, the appeal would be heard more quickly.
Superior Court Judge Thomas Perrino denied the change of venue in a Nov. 30 hearing, but he agreed to “fast-track” the case — an alternative suggested by the attorneys. The judge set a trial date of June 22.
No decision was reached on another request made by town counsel Amy Kwesell and Gregory Boucher, who represents Patrick. The lawyers had requested a $50,000 bond be posted by those who filed the suit, invoking a recently enacted provision in the state’s housing choice law aimed at discouraging frivolous appeals.
Perrino listened to arguments on both sides and said he would take the request for a bond under advisement.
The Barracks proposal calls for 28 dormitory-style rooms, with private bathrooms and common kitchens and dining area. The rooms would be for seasonal workers. The project would also include 15 studio and one-bedroom apartments and a two-bedroom manager’s unit, which would be year-round rentals. The four-acre target site is at 207 Route 6.
The planning board granted a special permit for the Barracks in June. Shortly afterward, residents Julie and Alison Gray, Jay Gurewitsch, and John Crowley filed suit against the planning board and Patrick, asking that the permit be annulled. They argued that the planning board did not adhere to the town’s zoning bylaws in granting the permit, and they questioned whether the developer has the right to use Province Road for access to the development.
To support the bond request, Boucher submitted several newspaper articles regarding the need for workforce housing in Provincetown. He also argued that Patrick was being forced to pay legal expenses and suffer project delays that could also cost him money.
Kwesell provided a copy of Land Court Judge Diane Rubin’s recent order that those appealing a comprehensive permit for affordable housing at the Cloverleaf in Truro post a $25,000 bond. That case is likely the first in the state to successfully invoke the new housing choice provisions.
In opposing the request for the bond, attorney William Henchy, who represents the residents appealing the special permit, argued that the Barracks case differs from the Truro case.
“Here, we have zero affordable housing,” Hinchy said. “What’s at stake here is a private developer proposing private housing for workers in Provincetown.”
When Judge Perrino asked for evidence of possible harm to the town and the developer caused by the appeal, Kwesell answered that “there are restaurants that can’t open certain nights, and stores that can’t open on certain days” because of staff shortages. In its special permit decision, Kwesell added, the planning board stated how important workforce housing is to the town.
Depositions in the lawsuit will be taken over the next few months. The parties have until April 1 to finish the discovery process. A pretrial conference is set for April 15.
Editor’s note: An earlier version of this article, published in print on Dec. 9, misspelled the name of attorney William Henchy, who represents the plaintiffs in the Barracks appeal.