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Brookfield files countersuit against CityPlace opponents

(WCAX)
Published: Jan. 15, 2020 at 12:12 AM EST
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A legal battle continues between the developer of CityPlace and a group of citizens against the Burlington project.

Brookfield Management filed a counter-lawsuit against the opponents in December. The two sides have been battling in court since 2017.

According to both parties, they reached a settlement agreement in 2017. Brookfield claims the deal mandated the defendants to “not oppose any other permits or regulatory or legislative approval that may be required to implement the project.”

Brookfield is now accusing the defendants of violating that agreement. They claim members of the group continued to pursue legal action against them which interfered with their “right to enjoy the benefits” of the deal. They also say the citizens’ group “broke implicit promises.”

The lawsuit claims that as a result of the defendants' conduct, Brookfield was forced to “incur substantial costs, expenses and other damages – including attorney’s fees” in continuing to have to defend themselves.

Attorney John Franco, who is representing the defendants, says the claim is unsubstantiated.

“And now they're saying two of these people were actually still involved in this public records suit. But if you read that carefully, they don't say what it is that they did that constituted continuous involvement,” Franco said.

He says the countersuit is unlawful. He claims it violates Vermont’s anti-strategic lawsuit against public participation laws that protect citizens’ right to freedom of speech or to petition the government for redress of grievances.

It remains to be seen if the CityPlace project will be further prolonged if this legal battle continues.

Mayor Miro Weinberger, D-Burlington, says he hopes both parties can work it out sooner rather than later.

“We really encourage them to try to sit down with the opponents to work out a settlement and focus their energies on fulfilling the commitment that they made to Burlington in getting this project built,” Weinberger said.

Franco says the group plans to file a counter-claim by the end of the month.

WCAX News made attempts to reach Brookfield and their lawyers and did not hear back from them before this article was published.

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