The Massachusetts Land Court has dismissed the latest in a string of lawsuits brought by Edgartown attorney Benjamin L. Hall over the Yellow House, which was taken from his family by eminent domain four years ago.
Mr. Hall filed the lawsuit in March 2020 on behalf of a family trust, Shute Realty, claiming the town of Edgartown violated setback requirements in its zoning regulations and failed to seek review by the Martha’s Vineyard Commission when it issued building permits to renovate the neglected property and a smaller building next door.
After years-long efforts to get the Hall family to fix up the historic property located on the corner of Main and Summer streets, the town of Edgartown acquired it by eminent domain in 2017. The Hall family was paid $3 million.
The Yellow House reopened last summer after a $2.5 million renovation directed by businessman Christopher Celeste, who leased the property from the town. The ground floor of the building is now occupied by the sportswear store Lululemon.
In a 19-page ruling dated Feb. 18, the Hon. Diane Rubin found that Shute Realty did not appeal the building permits within the 30 days required by law, even though the record shows Mr. Hall knew the permits had been granted.
“As Shute makes clear in its filings, not only is the property located directly across the street from Shute’s offices, but Shute’s affiliate owned the property prior to the town’s eminent domain taking and Shute had kept a watchful eye on the property ever since,” the ruling said.
“Moreover, protracted litigation over the property had been underway between Shute [and its affiliate] and the town for many years before any of the permits described above were issued.”
Judge Rubin ticked off four other lawsuits brought by Mr. Hall against the town over the Yellow House, all of which have been dismissed or resolved in favor of the town.
The decision dismissed the lawsuit against all the named defendants, including the Edgartown zoning board of appeals and its individual members, the building inspector, the board of selectmen and the Martha’s Vineyard Commission.