BOSTON — A Massachusetts Land Court judge has set Thursday as the deadline for a decision on whether a lawsuit seeking to prevent a recreational marijuana shop from opening on the Lynn/Saugus line can be settled.
Attorneys for the city of Lynn, town of Saugus and Massachusetts Green Retail, the company seeking to operate the Boston Street store, are scheduled to report to Judge Diane Rubin whether their clients are interested in mediation. If that consensus isn’t reached, the case will proceed to trial.
The town of Saugus filed a lawsuit against the Lynn City Council and Massachusetts Green Retail in April, appealing the special permit the council granted to the company a month before, which allows the store to operate.
The lawsuit makes the argument that about 10 inches of the Boston Street building, a third of the deck, most of the parking spaces and an existing dumpster are all in an industrial district in Saugus. Recreational cannabis establishments are explicitly prohibited in every zoning district in the town.
Rubin’s request for mediation to be considered came after her decision to deny a motion to dismiss the case filed by Massachusetts Green Retail, which is owned by Jordan Avery.
Rubin wrote in her decision that she chose to deny the motion because the town of Saugus is entitled to argue its case and that it was based on personal opinion, rather than expert analysis.
George Markopoulos, Lynn’s city solicitor, said he wasn’t surprised the motion was denied because it was based on a lack of standing, a type of argument that is not often granted.
“If we can settle the case, it means the town of Saugus dismisses the case, but the petitioner needs to do a few things to satisfy that in return,” Markopoulos said. “I think we would prevail if it went the full length, but when you’re talking about the whole process, you could be looking at a two-plus year process.
“There is an incentive for all parties, including the petitioner, to see what could be done to satisfy the town of Saugus so they can start construction and utilize the permit they received from the City Council,” he said.
Arthur Kreiger, special town counsel for Saugus, said he would discuss possible mediation with his client, but doesn’t know whether the town would be open to it.
“Obviously, we are pleased with the decision (to deny the motion), but it’s just the first step,” Kreiger said. “We wouldn’t have brought (the case) if we didn’t think we had a good chance of winning and there were legitimate concerns, but we will see.”
David Summer, a Boston-based attorney representing Massachusetts Green Retail, echoed Markopoulos, saying he wasn’t worried about his motion being denied because it’s early on in the case and he believes his client will ultimately be successful.
“No discoveries have been done so judges tend to loathe dismissing cases on the motion to dismiss phase, but I wouldn’t have made the motion if I had thought the motion had no merit,” Summer said.
“If I were a taxpayer in the city of Saugus, I would be a little angry that my representatives are spending tax dollars trying to combat a cannabis facility in another town rather than spending money for roads, schools, things of this nature,” he said.
Lou Markakis of Lynnway Associates was the realtor who helped Massachusetts Green Retail secure the location for their proposed cannabis store.
He attended the Land Court hearing and said there was some talk in terms of mediation about shaving off the part of the building that is in Saugus. Mitigation regarding the Saugus River boat launch and rail trail, which are both located near the building, were also discussed.
If the case proceeds, fact discovery needs to be completed by Dec. 3, with expert disclosures and designations by Jan. 10. A status conference is scheduled for Jan. 21, where the court will discuss whether the case is appropriate for summary judgment, according to Rubin’s written decision.