Judge Piper dismisses Squibby bridge case

The heavily litigated bridge to Squibnocket Point is presently in use. — Rich Saltzberg

On the coattails of an injunction denial this winter, opponents of the new bridge to Squibnocket Point and the tony estates there suffered another defeat in Land Court. On March 28, Land Court Judge Gordon Piper dictated a decision to dismiss a suit brought by Doug Liman and David Stork. The suit sought to shoot down decisions made by Chilmark’s zoning board of appeals and building inspector relative to the bridge. On Sept. 6 of last year, Judge Piper dismissed with prejudice a similar suit brought by Liman alone. As Judge Piper’s recent decision hasn’t yet been formally sent out from the court, it’s unclear if it’s also with prejudice.

Taken along with defeats handed down from Dukes County Superior Court Judge Gary Nickerson regarding Chapter 91 applicability, a Department of Environmental Protection decision, also on the subject of Chapter 91 applicability, and the Building Code Appeals Board regarding the lack of a building permit, among other issues, the ruling extends a losing streak for opponents who nevertheless remain dogged in their quest to thwart a structure they have argued is a breach of environmental and building law.

“We’re very pleased with the dismissal,” Squibnocket Farm attorney Richard Batchelder said. “We’re looking forward to the project being complete and the public having access to the beach.”

“We’re pleased that the Land Court has now, for the second time, dismissed the challenges to the actions of the building inspector and the zoning board of appeals,” Chilmark town counsel Ron Rappaport said. “We’re hopeful that we can now put all of this behind us.”

Liman and Stork have vowed to keep up their assault.

“The conclusion of the second Land Court lawsuit completes the trial court record,” opponents’ attorney Dan Larkosh wrote in an email. “As Judge Piper indicated in his decision, the defendants continue to proceed at their own risk. It is unfortunate that Defendant SFI [Squibnocket Farm, Inc.] continues to engage in desperate personal attacks and threats directed at my clients, rather than addressing the legal issues presented. To date the Defendant SFI has never submitted a building permit application and a building plan for this bridge certified by an engineer. The structure also fails to comply with the Chilmark zoning bylaws. Yet despite these facts, the structure now stands completed on the banks of a great pond. As the forces of nature begin to act on this environmentally sensitive public area, so will the truth be exposed. This case is not over, and my clients remain steadfast as we proceed forward in the Appeals Court of Massachusetts.”