The Supreme Judicial Court today dismissed a lawsuit by a Revere lawyer challenging the way Boston gave the Red Sox permanent access to Jersey Street, saying he was not directly harmed by the sale and so had no "standing" to sue.
In its ruling, the state's highest court also upheld a state law that says once a redevelopment authority gains control of land, it is exempt from laws that would normally require the land to be put out to bid for disposition.
The then BRA temporarily took over Boston's ownership of the road in 2003 via its power of eminent domain, after it declared the area around Fenway Park "blighted" - the court reminds us, that before the current ownership group took over the Sox, Fenway was in poor shape and it was largely surrounded by parking lots and decrepit warehouse and commercial buildings. The taking let the BPDA allow the Sox to close the street on game days to help draw in fans and more revenue.
In 2013, with the Sox a bit more successful and redevelopment of the Fenway area well underway, the BPDA said it would sell the Sox the permanent rights to the road as a way to keep the area from ever again becoming blighted. Before it signed the deal with the Sox, the authority rejected a request by Joseph Marchese to put the rights out to bid - he wanted to submit his own bid to redevelop the then Yawkey Way into a tourist attraction.
Marchese sued. The court said today that because Marchese was neither a Jersey Street landowner, did not have any business interests in the street already that would be harmed by the BRA/Sox deal and certainly had no guarantee he would win rights to the road even if the authority did put the road out to bid, he did not have a legal leg to stand on.
But even if he did, the court said, state law exempts "urban renewal agencies," such as the BRA/BPDA from public bidding requirements for land sales, so there was nothing wrong with it simply deciding to sign a deal with the Red Sox without considering his proposal. The court added this also applies to Marchese's argument that by 2013, the area around Fenway Park was no longer blighted, nor in any danger of becoming so:
Even if, as the plaintiff alleges, the [bidding] process was misused by the BRA because the area surrounding Fenway Park was no longer blighted, this would not have meant that the Yawkey Way easement would have been required to be put out to bid, or that the plaintiff would have been entitled to operate concessions on Yawkey Way.