The latest rendering of the Rockport Harbor Hotel, which is being proposed for downtown. Credit: Courtesy of Town of Rockport

A judge has denied a request from a group of Rockport residents to force a developer to temporarily halt the construction of a boutique hotel while legal battles play out in court.

The residents have been attempting to overturn the town’s approval of the 26-room Rockport Harbor Hotel through an appeal of the planning board’s approval of the project, as well as a lawsuit against the town. The developer, 20 Central Street LLC, was issued a building permit on March 10. The April 22 decision means construction of the Rockport Harbor Hotel can proceed.

Justice Bruce Mallonee agreed that it would be in the public’s interest to halt construction until the legal issues are resolved, according to his decision. But he denied the request because the residents did not show how they were more likely than not to win the overall legal case.

The residents were seeking a temporary restraining order on construction to prevent any interim harm, such as the obstruction of views or traffic.

When it was initially proposed, developers planned to build a 35-room boutique hotel on the vacant lot between 18 Central Oyster Bar and Seafolk Coffee in downtown Rockport. After hearing concerns from people involved with a citizen’s group — the Friends of Rockport — the developer reduced the number of rooms to 26 and removed an entire floor, although the project would still consume the entire lot.

After the town’s planning board approved the 26-room project last year, voters passed an ordinance amendment that limits the size of hotels downtown to 20 rooms. Several residents filed a lawsuit against the town, alleging that the town must apply the results of the August vote to the Rockport Harbor Hotel project.

Both the appeal of the zoning board’s approval and the civil lawsuit are still pending in Knox County Court.

Groundwork on the site began in October of last year when the developer received an excavation permit for the project.