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June 26, 2013

Editorial: Is law firm representing town's interest on Tool Co.?

It’s encouraging to hear once again that the latest owner of the derelict Cape Ann Tool Company site is committed to going forward with his plans for redevelopment of the long-dormant property.

And in that vein, it’s also a relief to learn that Michael Rauseo and his Cape Ann Tool LLC do not need formal approvals from the Army Corps of Engineers — never one of our more effective or efficient federal permitting agencies — to carry out work on the property’s seawall.

But it’s troubling, at best, to see the exchanges between Rauseo’s attorney and the town’s Boston-based law firm Kopelman and Paige regarding Rauseo’s rightful push to clear moorings from the site to gain access to the property to carry out the sewall work. For while it’s understandable that harbormasters Rosemary Lesch and Scott Story would question the status of the moorings, there’s no indication that the selectmen, other town officials or residents see any need to delay Rauseo’s company’s work on the site.

In that vein, we can only wonder whether the town’s law firm is in fact working on behalf of Rockport’s best interest, or merely doing the bidding of the harbormasters, who — while admittedly town officials – should hardly have the clout to hold up what looms as Rockport’s most significant commercial development project in years.

By most counts, Rauseo is moving forward with the project — and that’s certainly good news to Pigeon Cove neighbors who, thanks to some previous legal tangles and town officials reluctance to force the hand of previous Tool Company site owner Christopher Kaneb, have long endured living alongside what has arguably been Cape Ann’s worst eyesore and — despite the findings of Rockport Building Inspector Paul Orlando — a legitimate health and safety hazard.

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