Settlement Spells The End For CanalSide Commons

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By: Diana T. Barth
Published: 07/23/10

 The DeCicco family will be taking back the 152 acres off the Bourne Rotary that have been under the control of Lenord G. Cubellis, developer of the proposed CanalSide Commons, for the last 12 years.

According to documents filed in the Barnstable County Superior Court, a suit filed by Mr. Cubellis in 2008 has resulted in a settlement that allows L. Mark DeCicco, as trustee of a DeCicco family trust, to purchase Mr. Cubellis’s interests in the property for $3.8 million.

Both Mr. DeCicco and Mr. Cubellis said the same thing this week, using different words: that it was a shame that they did not have an opportunity to develop the project that they once envisioned for that property, accessible as it is from both the rotary and Sandwich Road.

When that project was first proposed, Mr. DeCicco said, Mr. Cubellis wanted to develop a hotel and convention center with a Mashpee Commons-style shopping area next to it, albeit one that would be smaller in scale.

The DeCiccos have owned the acreage at the rotary since 1963. Mr. Cubellis began working with Louis DeCicco in 1998, operating under a purchase and sale agreement. That agreement was extended and extended throughout the years as he worked, primarily with the Cape Cod Commission, to gain the permitting needed to develop the property.

The original vision, Mark DeCicco said, was “morphed” by the process, resulting in the mixed use, retail and affordable housing project that may, or may not, be the best project for the Town of Bourne.

With the downturn in the economy, when it looked as if even the changed, downscaled project would not be built, the younger Mr. DeCicco, who now holds the property in trust, took steps to put the land up for sale.

The family had not had any income on the property for 12 years, Mr. DeCicco said, and his father, Louis DeCicco, almost 80 and retired, needed income.

Mr. Cubellis, who had invested in the property for years, filed suit to stop any sale, relying on his oft-extended agreement, one that the trust has purportedly not signed onto.

Personal friends since their elementary school days, the two men, at the culmination of a process involving multiple lawyers and law firms, finally ended the matter by sitting down for a day of mediation at the new University of Massachusetts law school at Dartmouth.

Under the auspices of former judge George Jacobs, they hammered out an agreement that Mark DeCicco said is both an end and “a new start.”

“The DeCicco family is thrilled to maintain ownership of their property. They plan to work tirelessly to complete a project that will be beneficial to their fellow citizens of Bourne and the Upper Cape,” said Robert S. Sinsheimer of Sinsheimer & Associates of Boston, Mark DeCicco’s attorney.

Mr. Sinsheimer, Douglas M. Cabral of Collins & Cabral in Hyannis, who represented the trust that now owns the land, the late Richard Driscoll, the late Patrick Butler and the attorneys of Nutter, McClennen & Fish, LLP, who represent Mr. Cubellis, lawyers from Denner Pellegrino LLP, and more, all ended up involved in the complex issue, Mark DeCicco said.

Mr. Cubellis said he was “pleased to have been able to reach an agreement with the DeCicco family that meets their needs and expectations, and also mine, and that allows both to move on.”

He said the agreement includes all of the permits that have been granted at this point, and that he looks forward to working with Mark DeCicco and other interested persons to preserve those permits and otherwise do what is best for the Town of Bourne.

Mr. Cubellis also added that he still feels that Bourne “lost an opportunity” when CanalSide Commons did not go forward as originally conceived. He said he looks at developments that have gone into Hingham and other towns since he started work on the CanalSide project and hopes that Bourne can eventually get “its share” of good projects. He said he hopes that, going forward, the town takes the best advantage of the Bourne rotary acreage.

Now that the lawsuit is settled, if not formally dismissed, Mr. DeCicco, a Pocasset resident and a member of the Bourne Finance Committee, has begun talking options with Bourne Town Planner Coreen V. Moore, Susan Ross of the Bourne Housing Partnership, which deals with affordable housing, and the Cape Cod Commission.

He said his thinking is not limited to what has been permitted for the land, and that commission staff, and others, have “lists” of options to discuss with him.

The lawsuit, Mr. DeCicco said, prevented him from discussing possibilities with the developer who once wanted to site a boutique, destination hotel, complete with water park, on the site, but the last time he spoke with that developer, however, the man was still interested.

The 152 acres of developable land is currently assessed by the town at $2.3 million.

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