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Moot Moot case? Court says state can let developers build on former Cambridge wetlands

The Supreme Judicial Court ruled today the legislature has the right to let the developers of the massive NorthPoint project build on what were once tidal marshes.

In practical terms, the decision on a lawsuit brought by John Moot - who died last year - may be moot because the developers of the project are embroiled in other legal wrangling and may never finish the project.

However, it does uphold the legislature's right to reduce requirements for building on "landlocked tidelands," such at NorthPoint, where the tidelands became landlocked in 1962, when the state let the Boston & Maine fill in some of the marshes. In 2007, the SJC agreed with Moot and said the developers had no right to build on the land under state law. In response, the legislature passed a law - signed by Gov. Patrick - that exempted such lands from the state law regulating coastal construction.

The court ruled today the law passes constitutional muster and that while the developers, if they ever get their act together, no longer have to go through licensing, they and the state still have to prove the public good of the work.

Complete decision.

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The land in question isn't wetland anymore, and hasn't been since (as you state) "the tidelands become landlocked in 1962, when the state let the Boston & Maine fill in some of the marshes".

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Reading the decision, I got the impression the land was still kind of soggy, but I've changed the headline because you could be right and I have no clue.

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Landlocked, as defined here simply means that there is a public way between the filled land in question and the water. In this case it is a bridge. The Gilmore. Five years ago the land was owned by the Commonwealth and Boston and Maine R.R. had a license to use it for specified purposes with certain conditions. Now the licensing requirements are gone. The ownership of the land has not changed. It takes a specific act of the legislature ot do that. How much do you think Timothy Mellon (yes those Mellons) should pay the Commonwealth for thirteen acres of prime development land? What public benefit should be served?

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