Developer seeks move from Housing Court

Says court has no jurisdiction in case

GREENFIELD — The developer of the proposed big box store in town has asked that its case be dismissed by the Housing Court, stating that the court has no jurisdiction over the matter.

Earlier this month, a Housing Court judge ruled the court would determine whether the special permit issued to the developer by the Planning Board in 2011 was valid. This ruling sets the stage for essentially a trial where both sides will present their case from the beginning. This decision came about after an appeal had been filed by abutters last year. Developer Ceruzzi Inc. asked the court for a summary judgment regarding the appeal.

The developer had hoped the court would rule in its favor, deciding that there was no basis to appeal the permit.

“The court ruled that the neighbors have the standing for appeal,” said Al Norman, a Greenfield resident and a consultant who has helped fight big box stores nationally.

Friday, the project’s proponents filed a motion that says the Housing Court lacks subject matter jurisdiction on the matter and should dismiss the case.

The motion cites state law that grants jurisdiction over appeals of municipal and other permits involving large projects to the Land or Superior courts. It also cites a 2012 state Court of Appeals case that ruled that an appeal brought by Buccaneer Development Inc. against the Lenox Zoning Board of Appeals for denial of a special permit should be heard in Land Court, not Housing Court.

“It’s a legal stretch,” said Norman. “They’re saying that, because the Housing Court doesn’t have jurisdiction over large projects, the case should be dismissed.”

Norman said he doesn’t think the motion will be granted.

“Their motion to dismiss is almost laughable,” he said.

“A transfer (of the case) to another court could happen,” said Norman. “That could result in more delays.”

Wherever the case is heard, said Norman, the abutters just want their day in court.

“All the neighbors want is an unbiased look at the case,” he said. “They had felt that the Planning Board had already made up their mind (before it heard the matter).”

Norman said he and the opponents of the development will issue a response to the motion soon.

David Rainville can be reached at:
drainville@recorder.com
or 413-772-0261, ext. 279

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