Developer of Whole Food Plaza wins legal battle; appeal likely
Developers of Whole Foods Plaza in Brighton have prevailed in a set of lawsuits that argued the parking and loading area intrudes on a town recreation trail.
But that might not be the end of the litigation that has dogged the Monroe Avenue development.
“This verdict was always headed to an appeals court, regardless of who won,” opponents Brighton Grassroots said in a statement. “That’s where cases like this are decided once and for all.”
The question to be decided was whether the trail route was public property, and if the town improperly ceded it for private use.
From the archive: Top legal challenge survives in Whole Foods Plaza lawsuits, heads to December trial
The lawsuits focused on the original Auburn Trail route that followed an abandoned railroad bed and crossed onto the plaza property.
At issue was 0.3 miles of the 2-mile trail that stretches across the town.
The question to be decided at trial was whether it was effectively public property, and if the town improperly ceded it for private use. State Supreme Court Justice Scott Odorisi concluded it was not. While routinely used by residents, it was never formally dedicated or maintained by the town.
Easements were partially blocked by a shed, overgrowth and obstructions, including a gate, snow piles and equipment, Odorisi wrote.
“Some of the photographic exhibits show the path in horrible condition, especially the stretches behind Clover Lanes and also Clover Plaza,” he wrote. “Those visuals are hardly consistent with a park, or even a suitable walking path at times.”
Trial testimony seemed to indicate it was not the trail but the scale of the development that was the real issue, Odorisi wrote in his decision.
Whole Foods, meanwhile, is preparing for an opening in “early spring,” with staff expected to begin training in March.