Squibby clash returns to Land Court

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A bird's-eye view of Squibnocket Beach, Squibnocket Pond, and the Squibnocket Farm bridge.— Drew Kinsman

The legal shootout over the Squibnocket Farm access structure returned to familiar ground last week. Through their attorney Dan Larkosh, Chilmark homeowners Doug Liman and David Stork have filed a Land Court motion for injunctive relief against Squibnocket Farm, Chilmark’s building inspector, and the Chilmark zoning board of appeals. The motion comes after Liman’s previous Land Court suit, then executed without Stork, was dismissed with prejudice by Judge Gordon Piper late last summer. The prejudicial portion of the dismissal precluded further litigation along certain lines of argument. However, as The Times reported last September, Piper stated in his decision that other avenues of argument remained potentially viable: “This dismissal, although otherwise with prejudice, is without prejudice to the plaintiffs: (1) seeking adjudication in any court of competent jurisdiction regarding the need (for reasons unrelated to zoning law compliance) for a building permit to issue for the project.” He went on to say that should the project be “constructed in a manner materially different” from the bylaws Chilmark voters amended last spring, the plaintiffs could choose to relitigate the matter.

“The original lawsuit led to the passage of bylaw amendments in April 2017, which would have exempted the bridge project from the aesthetic site review zoning requirements,” Larkosh wrote in an email. “In the prior case, the judge ruled that Liman stipulated that the new amendments would resolve the issues. So the prior lawsuit was dismissed based on the zoning amendments, but then after passage the town and SFI [Squibnocket Farm] never complied with the amendments. Therefore, there are no impediments to this action because these issues were never decided in the prior case.”

Ropes and Gray attorney Richard Batchelder, who represents Squibnocket Farm, told The Times he and his team plan to appear before the court in opposition to the motion.

Chilmark town counsel Ron Rappaport confirmed he will also appear in opposition to the motion.

The hearing on the motion is scheduled for Feb. 23.