Judge rules in favor of Depot Corner in gas station dispute

Airport Mobil owner Michael Rotondo is taking the MV Airport Commission to court. He lost his bid for an injunction in awarding the contract to Depot Corner. — Stacey Rupolo

A Dukes County Superior Court judge has denied a request for an injunction that would have blocked the transfer of an airport business park lease from Michael Rotondo, owner of Airport Mobil, to Louis Paciello, owner of Depot Corner in Edgartown.

“The [Dukes County Airport] commission did not exhibit either irrationality or bias in selecting Depot’s bid over that submitted by [Airport Mobil],” Judge Mitchell Kaplan wrote in his decision issued Wednesday.

Judge Kaplan acknowledged that including a sample bid form “did not add to the clarity of the bidding process.” He also wrote that the commissioners’ review of price at the same time they reviewed other criteria “could have subconsciously affected the ratings” issued to the bidders.

The judge found that Airport Mobil failed to prove that the commission acted “arbitrarily, capriciously or illegally in selecting Depot.” To win the restraining order, Airport Mobil had to demonstrate that there was a likelihood it would succeed on the merits of the case, a threshold Judge Kaplan said was not met.

Airport Mobil owner Michael Rotondo had filed suit against the Martha’s Vineyard Airport Commission over the way the contract was awarded for the property at the Martha’s Vineyard Airport Business Park that he has leased for the past 20 years. Mr. Rotondo took issue with the contract ‘s award to Mr. Paciello, who owns two other gas stations on the Island.

At a hearing Tuesday, April 11, Judge Kaplan heard arguments from attorneys for both sides.

Michael Mahoney, an attorney for Mr. Rotondo, called the bid process and scoring a “sham,” while David Mackey, an attorney for the commission, said his client’s bid was far more lucrative than the one submitted by Mr. Rotondo and deserved to win the contract. The difference in the two bids was nearly $400,000 over the 20-year term of the lease.

Mr. Paciello and Mr. Rotondo were among four bidders on the property. The high bidder was tossed out because of other issues with his proposal, according to court testimony.