Boston has scored a legal victory in its protracted legal battle with Quincy over the planned reconstruction of the Long Island Bridge, moving health officials one step closer to re-establishing a drug treatment facility on the harbor island.
The Dec. 3 ruling by Suffolk Superior Court Judge Gregg Pasquale turns aside a Quincy Conservation Commission decision to deny Boston a permit to construct the bridge to Moon and Long islands, replacing the previous, aged span that was demolished in 2014 after it was declared dangerous. The bridge, while owned by Boston, traverses waters controlled by Quincy.
In denying the permit, the Quincy Conservation Commission said Boston "did not fully quantify the adverse impacts to land under the ocean and land containing shellfish from the repair and replacement of the concrete piers, and failed to provide sufficient mitigation to meet performance standards."
But Pasquale called that denial "arbitrary and capricious" because the commission's opposition relied on a local bylaw "more protective than" the state's Wetlands Protection Act.
The ruling shuts the door on further enforcement of Quincy's local bylaw. Boston city officials hope to address the city's opioid addiction crisis by rebuilding the bridge and opening a new treatment campus on Long Island.
“There is no doubt the opioid crisis has been exacerbated by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and the impact of the temporary closure of supports and services,” said Boston Mayor Marty Walsh in a press release Wednesday. “We applaud this very well-reasoned decision by the Suffolk Superior Court which brings us one step closer to providing people with services they need to attain and maintain recovery.
Walsh also left the door open to working cooperatively with its southern neighbor to complete the project.
"This is something that goes beyond city lines, and we continue to hope to work together with the City of Quincy to move forward on this project that will serve and benefit the region,” he said.
That sentiment is not shared by Quincy Mayor Thomas Koch, who released a fiery statement announcing his intent to appeal Pasquale's decision.
"We’ll be appealing, and this is not remotely close to the final chapter in this case," Koch said. "The City of Quincy still has a series of serious legal, environmental, and public safety questions that have yet to be resolved at the state, federal and local level. This was an ill-conceived and unsound plan the day it was released nearly three years ago, and it remains so today."