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A judge has overturned Rockport’s issuance of a building permit for a struggling downtown hotel project. The developers are embroiled in a legal battle soon after the project is approved.

In his Monday order, Judge Bruce Mallonee did not issue an injunction to halt construction pending a review of the project by the city’s planning board. Jon Duke.

The Rockport Planning Board could begin the court-ordered review of several elements of the project — including parking and architectural aspects — as early as this month, Duke said. Another building permit cannot be issued for the project until this review is complete and the site plan application has been re-approved.

“My feeling and I think our code officer’s feeling, [is] that really, we are in a position where without a permit there is no work. If anyone wants to work without a permit, we’ll cross that bridge when we get there, but at this point there’s no permit on that property,” Duke said.

Construction of the Rockport Harbor Hotel has been underway for a year despite ongoing legal challenges, and the exterior of the building appears to be largely complete. Lights were on inside the partially built hotel on Tuesday afternoon and people appeared to be inside, although it was unclear what, if any, work was underway.

An attorney representing the developer, 20 Central Street LLC, said Tuesday that construction was not moving forward.

The legal battle over the Rockport Harbor hotel began in court early last year. A group of Rockport residents – called the Friends of Rockport – filed an appeal seeking to have the planning board’s approval of the project overturned. They also sued for the city to apply the results of an August 2020 referendum that imposed a 20-room cap on downtown hotels to the project. The lawsuit and appeal have been treated as one case since being filed in early 2021.

The hotel is being built on what was once a vacant lot wedged between a restaurant and a former cafe in downtown Rockport. When it was originally proposed in 2019, developers planned to build a 35-room boutique hotel. After hearing residents’ concerns, the number of bedrooms was reduced to 26, although the project would still consume all of the land.

Last month, Mallonee ruled that the results of the August 2020 referendum should apply to the project, even though it had been approved before the referendum. This means that the hotel must contain six rooms less than planned. In that December decision, Mallonee also referred the project to the Rockport Planning Board for further review of parking and architectural elements.

With Monday’s ruling overturning the building permit, Mallonee referred the permit application back to the city’s code enforcement officer for action after further review of the project by the city planning board.

“My clients are encouraged by this decision and sincerely hope that the developer and the city will approach this new review process in an effort to better address the impacts of this project on the neighborhood,” said Kristin Collins, the attorney working with the Friends of Rockport. in a statement Monday.

On Tuesday, the city’s code enforcement officer sent an email to 20 Central Street LLC and its attorney advising them that the building permit has been canceled and work under the permit must cease.

Code Enforcement Officer Scott Bickford said this was more to enforce an agreement between all parties that the building permit is no longer valid, than to serve as a formal order to stop construction. works – which would require going to the construction site and posting a stop work notice.

“We are not taking any further action to issue a work stoppage [order] because there is no permit. If there was a situation, we would cross that bridge, but that’s not the situation we’re in,” Duke said. “We expect there will be no more works.”

Correction: A previous version of this story misstated the name of the Rockport Planning Board.