Sunday July 1, 2012

NORTHAMPTON, Mass. (AP) -- A Massachusetts Superior Court judge has raised questions about meetings and communications between developers and Easthampton planners, allowing a lawsuit to go forward challenging construction of a supermarket.

The Daily Hampshire Gazette reports ( ) that Hampshire Superior Court Judge Daniel A. Ford ruled that meetings and other communication between Stop & Shop lawyers and members of the Planning Board in 2009 and 2010 could be found to have been intended to influence the board's decision and be seen as lobbying.

Business owner Kenneth Cernak sued the company and Easthampton in 2010, saying the city did not follow proper procedures in granting a special permit.

Mayor Michael A. Tautznik says his contacts with Stop & Shop were intended to promote economic development. Lawyers for Stop & Shop said they discussed procedural matters and scheduling.