The Massachusetts Appeals Court said today a developer can proceed with plans for a mixed-use development next to St. James Episcopal Church at Massachusetts Avenue and Beech Street that will involve destruction of a historic garden but which will provide money for renovating the "fragile" church.
The Cambridge Historical Commission designated the Romanesque-revival church as "historic" in 2010 as part of an agreement to allow the project by Oaktree Development - and the parish, which signed on as a joint developer.
A number of nearby residents sued to stop the project, which they said would violate an unwritten "contract" with neighbors for public use of the Knight garden and would desecrate an unofficial "historic district" around the church, as well as subject them to increased traffic and the sight of a "prison wall."
The court could have simply said what it ultimately did in its decision, that the neighbors had no standing because they are not direct abutters to the property, that there is no official historic district and that it would therefore defer to the decision of the local commission to allow the work. But first, the court stated it had to wade through one of the more indecipherable complaints it has seen of late:
The amended complaint is thirty-three pages long, and it incorporates several hundred pages of attachments. The complaint is written in a discursive, stream of consciousness style, it lacks any organizational coherence, and it is riddled with overblown language and inappropriate ad hominem attacks. As a result, the specific legal theories on which the plaintiffs purport to rely are not readily discernible. We appreciate the difficulties the motion judge faced as he diligently tried to make sense of the plaintiffs' alleged causes of action. We attempt to do the same, mindful that we should not provide the plaintiffs the undue benefit of arguments they did not fairly raise.