Manville Place

Great Barrington’s Manville Street in November 2018. A state Land Court judge has ruled that an easement can’t be moved to make way for a 47-unit apartment complex, scuttling the developer’s plans.

GREAT BARRINGTON — A court ruling that prevents an easement from being moved has scuttled plans for a 47-unit “live and work in town” apartment complex, ending a two-year court fight.

In Massachusetts Land Court, Judge Robert Foster said the developer of the Manville Place mixed-use complex cannot relocate an easement on neighboring property belonging to Donald and Priscilla Willis. Foster’s judgement was finalized on Sept. 14.

The developers had planned to build the complex just south of downtown, and it’s unclear whether they will try to find a new location.

The Willis’ had filed an appeal of the Select Board’s November 2018 decision to issue a special permit for the $15 million project by Framework Properties developers Ian Rasch and Sam Nickerson. They also appealed the Planning Board’s decision to evaluate the developer’s plans.

The project, under 26 Manville, LLC, was slated for construction on three lots at Manville Street’s dead end near the railroad tracks.

The company bought three homes there to eventually demolish, and build on what would be around 2 acres.

The complex was to be completed by last summer and would have included a small amount of commercial space, possibly for a coffee shop or yoga studio.

The street’s residents battled the project, fearing a change to the neighborhood character and an increase in traffic on a street with one exit point at Route 7.

Town officials and other residents said the new apartments would add badly needed, well-priced new housing stock to the town in an area that straddles downtown and the Big Y supermarket.

The town’s Planning Board had recently re-zoned the area to prevent big box stores from settling in, but also took criticism for creating a loophole in the bylaws that would allow extra apartments on a small parcel if a certain amount of commercial space was proposed.

Nickerson on Wednesday said he could not comment about whether the company plans apartments at a different location.

Heather Bellow can be reached at or 413-329-6871. On Twitter