Lawsuit filed against City Council over Port 460 Project

Published 3:58 pm Monday, October 24, 2022

A group of local residents filed suit Friday in Suffolk Circuit Court seeking to block City Council’s decision to rezone property for development of the Port 460 Logistics Center on 2925 Pruden Boulevard.

Council’s approval of the rezoning came Sept. 21 with a 5-3 vote after several months of public outcry from local residents. It would allow the rezoning of the 540-acre property off of U.S. 460 that would bring with it 4.7 million square feet of development with 10 warehouses and five commercial retail buildings.

“The council’s approval of the application was unreasonable, without valid basis in law, arbitrary and capricious, based on consideration of inappropriate factors, and made without giving due consideration to factors it should have considered such as the health, safety, order, prosperity, the conservation of the city’s natural and historic resources, and the general welfare of the city and its residents,” the lawsuit states.

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The law firm Randall, Page and Bruch filed the lawsuit Friday, Oct. 21, on behalf of Dale Roberts, Gerard Celia and Sterling Taylor, who contend the project will negatively affect each of them.

The lawsuit states that Roberts believes the “quiet enjoyment of his property” will be infringed with increased traffic causing safety issues and posing risks to his well water.

Celia also raised concerns in the lawsuit for his well water noting its “close proximity to a massive heavy industrial site and the inevitable and unavoidable pollution that will emit from that site.”

The suit said Taylor has similar concerns about the traffic and the effect the development will have on his well water.

Attorneys point to the city’s own planning documents in seeking a declaratory judgment blocking the rezoning.

“Further, the Port 460 project associated with the application is inconsistent with the county’s long term vision for land use and growth management as outlined in the city’s own comprehensive plan and approval of the application would be inconsistent with the zoning of nearby properties,” the suit states.

Denise Murden, spokesperson for Port 460 opposition group, discussed the decision and the citizens’ concerns over the project.

“While Mayor Duman and city council members admitted they had never seen so much outcry over an issue before them as they did the Port 460 rezoning, council members who voted for it told us with their vote that our concerns were not heard,” Murden said. “This legal action is proof that citizens are determined to make our city council listen to our concerns about growth and development in our city.”

Likewise, Murden addressed the views expressed by city leaders who said the project would not create health and safety hazards for citizens living near the logistics center.

“Between the Planning Commission meeting on July 19 and the City Council vote on Sept. 21, a single citizen stood up in support of the Port 460 project, while hundreds of others showed up to speak and demonstrate opposition,” said Murden.

“Citizen opponents have spent considerable time and effort researching the many potential impacts of this project and presenting them to city council members. If anyone disputes our conclusions that Port 460 would harm the health, safety, and welfare of current and future residents, where have they been?”

All members of the city council and the city’s mayor and vice-mayor are listed as defendants in the lawsuit.

The suit seeks a declaratory judgment that the city council’s approval of the rezoning is null and void, along with injunctive relief to enforce any order issued by the court. Plaintiffs also seek an award of their court costs, along with other forms of relief the court “deems just and expedient under the circumstances.

Officials with the city have been contacted but have not yet responded to requests for comments on the suit.