PROVINCETOWN — Just days before the start of a trial on legal challenges to the proposed multimillion-dollar development of the property where the derelict Old Reliable Fish House stands, the two sides filed documents in state Land Court saying a settlement was in the works.
The trial was canceled and the parties given 60 days to complete the terms of the settlement, according to a joint statement issued by lawyers representing developer Christine Barker and abutter Patrick Patrick, owner of Marine Specialties.
“Once those documents are finally negotiated, the zoning cases will finally be dismissed,” said the joint statement. “We have no further comments at this time.”
Neither Barker nor Patrick returned calls from the Independent.
Barker’s proposal calls for demolition of the Fish House structure, which was condemned after a fire in 2015, and construction of a 31-room hotel, four residential condos, a restaurant and bar, a meeting room, and limited parking.
The harborside building would sit on a platform 17 feet above sea level because of FEMA regulations, and its highest point would be about 60 feet above sea level. The plan also calls for reconstruction of a 264-foot pier.
Patrick and two other abutters appealed the plan in Land Court after it was approved by the planning and zoning boards four years ago. Some adjustments to the proposal satisfied one neighbor, and Barker bought out the second. Patrick, whose property abuts the target site, has been the only remaining appellant.
A Legal Hurdle Remains
Patrick filed an additional suit in April disputing the property line Barker is using in her proposal. That case is not part of the pending settlement.
In Patrick’s suit, he claims the 264-foot pier, as shown on Barker’s plan, will partially trespass 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. Neither side disputes the boundaries on that registered survey.
After 1951, sand deposits gradually added land to each of the properties between their original boundaries and the mean high-water mark.
Patrick contends that a survey done by the owners of the Old Reliable in 1968 incorrectly put a triangular piece of the accreted land that was on his side of boundary onto their side. Instead of simply running a straight line from the original common boundary to the new high-water mark, the surveyor adjusted it to reflect the actual occupation of the property. That adjustment shifted the line to include remnants of the wharf that extended from the Old Reliable site.
Barker’s engineers used the 1968 survey when laying out the mixed-use project, Patrick says, and the end result is that the proposed pier crosses onto his property.
Patrick hired civil engineer William Rogers, who drew up a survey that extends the 1948 boundary straight to the current mean high-water mark. He asked the Land Court to approve a petition to adjust the 1951 registered land plan to include the additional beachfront, using the extended boundary set by Rogers.
Barker’s attorneys say the 1968 plan they used to lay out the proposed project is valid. As for the accreted land, they contend it would be part of the Province Lands and therefore owned by the Commonwealth, making the state a party of interest in the case.
Following a status hearing on Nov. 8, the entry by the court stated that the parties in the case had not pointed to a law establishing the boundary of the Commonwealth’s interest, whether that would be the historic mean high-water mark or the current high-water mark. A status conference was set for Dec. 15.