Harbourside lawsuit vs. Jupiter in mediation; war of words escalates

As the back-and-forth hostilities continue to escalate, at least one element of the Harbourside war of words may come to a settlement Friday.

That’s when the lawsuit filed by Harbourside Place against the town of Jupiter is scheduled for mediation. The lawsuit claims the town’s restrictions on music are unlawful — that playing music through the amphitheater’s speakers is not prohibited in the town code.

If attorneys from both sides reach a settlement through mediation, a court trial would be avoided. If they reach an impasse, the lawsuit will proceed to trial. No date has been set for a trial, according to Mitchell Berger, the attorney for Harbourside Place developer Nick Mastroianni.

“We are hopeful that cooler heads will prevail and Harbourside is allowed to use the amphitheater for the purpose it was given permission to in the certificate of occupancy,” said Berger.

Meanwhile, the prolonged debate between the two sides intensified this week in written form.

The “Top Ten Untruthful statements published by Harbourside” was the subject of a memo issued Wednesday by Town Attorney Tom Baird to the Jupiter Town Council.

“Statements in the press made by Mr. Mastroianni are untrue. The public needs to know that,” Baird said.

Mastroianni said Harbourside officials disagree on all points in the memo.

“Everything that the town attorney just said is wrong,” Mastroianni said via-e-mail.

The three-page memo is the latest jab in the continuing feud between the town and Mastroianni. It lists 10 statements from Harbourside, ranging from Mastroianni calling Jupiter a “communist country” to the $150 million entertainment center’s status as an “outdoor venue.”

The two sides were ordered to mediation, which is confidential, by Palm Beach County Circuit Judge Edward Artau. The certified mediator appointed by the judge is Rodney Romano, a former mayor of Lake Worth.

The lawsuit filed Jan. 5 is “a gross distortion of the facts,” according to Baird.

“Based on the facts as presented in the complaint, it appears that Mr. Mastroianni believes that he is above the law and can operate Harbourside any way he determines is appropriate. Fortunately, he has not been elected to the Jupiter Town Council,” Baird said in an e-mail to The Palm Beach Post.

Jupiter’s actions with Harbourside Place are “government gone wild,” Mastroianni said when the lawsuit was filed in Palm Beach County Circuit Court.

“The town is reneging on its promise that Harbourside Place would be the town’s entertainment center. I would not have built Harbourside Place if I would have known the town was going to act this way,” said Mastroianni, the president of Allied Capital & Development, the company that built the $150 million waterfront complex on the Intracoastal Waterway.

Jupiter residents are fed up with the ongoing battle, said former Jupiter Mayor and Palm Beach County Commissioner Bob Culpepper, a resident of Jupiter.

“This is an unnecessary use of time, energy and money. Both sides should have figured all this stuff out a long time ago. People in Jupiter are very disappointed in the town council,” Culpepper said.

But Jupiter resident John Carr, who also regularly attends town council meetings, said Jupiter officials are following the right path to make sure Harbourside Place complies with town regulations.

“The town is not going overboard. They are doing what residents want. Harbourside has to follow the same rules everyone else does,” said Carr.

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