BOSTON-In a ruling that could have ramifications for several Bay State waterfront developments, the state’s highest court has ordered the developers of the 48-acre North Point mixed-use project in East Cambridge to seek a license under Chapter 91, which governs development in tidelands. The ruling, which could delay construction and prompt legislative hearings on the $2-billion project, found that the state Department of Environmental Protection exceeded its authority when it granted the developers an exemption from the waterways statute.

The 5.5-million-sf office, residential and retail project, on an underutilized rail and industrial site near the Charles River, is being developed by Pan Am Systems Inc. of New Hampshire. Boston’s Jones Lang LaSalle office is serving as the development manager on the project. Officials with the developer declined to comment when contacted by Globe St.com and an attorney for the project did not return calls in time. A DEP spokesman tells GlobeSt.com that the department would review the decision. “It has been remanded to us and we’ll be trying to address it appropriately as we do the reviews,” the spokesman says.

Vivien Li, executive director of the Boston Harbor Association, tells GlobeSt.com that the ruling could have “tremendous ramifications” for developers along the state’s shoreline, even if construction, like the North Point project, does not abut wetlands.

“I think we’re going to look much more carefully at other developments along waterfront, particularly along the South Boston waterfront,” says Li. “For [developers] who thought they were not covered under the regulations because they were land-locked, this can have tremendous ramifications.”

The lawsuit was brought against DEP by the Association for Cambridge Neighborhoods. Attorneys for North Point’s developer unsuccessfully argued the project should be excluded from Chapter 91 regulations because it would be constructed 1,500 feet from land-locked tidelands and not near coastal waterways.

Spaulding & Slye Investments, of Boston, is also a developer on the North Point project.

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