The developer of the hotel project rejected by the Watertown Zoning Board of Appeals has taken the town to state Land Court to appeal the decision.
Cherag Patel, the head of Elm Hospitality LLC, filed the appeal in Land Court on Oct. 28, and named as defendants the members of the ZBA: Melissa SantucciRozzi, Christopher Heep, David Ferris, Neeraj Chander and Kelly Donato. Patel is being represented by attorney Curtis Dooling of Pierce & Mandell of Boston.
The appeal claims the ZBA wrongfully denied the special permit for the 104 room hotel project at 80 Elm Street when it made its ruling on Sept. 30, and seeks to annul the ZBA’s decision. It claims the ZBA exceeded its authority, and “The Board abused its discretion in denying Plaintiff’s request for special permit with site plan review.”
The decision boiled down to the setback between the building and the property lines, which was 2.6 feet on the south side and 3.1 feet on the north side. ZBA members pointed to the to building being too close to neighboring properties when voting against the proposal. ZBA members also said the hotel would be much larger than other buildings and homes nearby on Elm Street.
The suit says the ZBA requested that Patel reveal which hotel brand would be built, and as a result he had to execute a franchise agreement to be able to reveal the name. With the denial of the project, the suit says, Patel will face $5 million in “liquidated damages.”
Elm Hospitality noted that it “spent considerable time and resources cleaning and decontaminating the site,” removing lead and other contaminants from the site. The clean up was one of the agreed conditions of approval, the suit claims.
The suit claims the proposed hotel project met the four criteria required by the ZBA: the specific site is an appropriate location for such use, structure or condition; the use as developed will not adversely affect the neighborhood; there will be no nuisance or serious hazard to vehicles or pedestrians; and adequate and appropriate facilities will be provided to the proper operation of the proposed use.
In regards to the height of the building the suit says: “Although taller than most nearby properties, the proposed hotel development is compliant with the Town’s design standards and is appropriate for and industrial/commercial area.
A copy of the suit was filed at the Watertown Town Clerk’s office in Town Hall.