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Hale & Hamlin News

Hale & Hamlin has added a new attorney, Zachary F. McNally, to it's team.  Zachary is a recent graduate of Maine's only law school, and is a native Mainer.  Born in the shadow of Mt. Katahdin in the small town of Sherman Mills, Zachary then moved Downeast to attend high school in Machias.

Zachary will be operating a true general practice, handling clients issues across the legal spectrum.  Please join us in welcoming Zachary to Hale & Hamlin and welcoming him back to Downeast Maine! 
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Hale & Hamlin, LLC has opened a new office in Blue Hill for the convenience of our Peninsula clients. Please visit us at 105 Main Street, Second Floor Suite, Blue Hill, Maine, 04614. 

Telephone 207.374.7016

Boatyard Expansion Appeal is Denied

Published Date

By Mark Good

mgood@mdislander.com

Courtesy Mount Desert Islander

TREMONT-An appeal of the granting of a permit allowing Bass Harbor Boat to build, repair and maintain boats in two recently constructed buildings was rejected by the appeals board last week.

Nancy Diedricksen, whose property abuts the boatyard owned by Robert “Chummy” Rich, filed the appeal, which was heard on Thursday, Feb. 9. The board denied her appeal in a 3-0 vote. Ms. Diedricksen claimed she suffered personal injury through the change of use through the devaluation of her property and the fact that it would be more difficult to sell or rent. The buildings are in a residential/commercial zone. Ms. Diedricksen was equally concerned that the change of use could create a health hazard for the neighborhood. “Odors and chemicals” generated by boat building and related maintenance activities can be harmful, she argued.

Ms. Diedricksen admitted she did not attend the meeting at which the change of use was approved. She would have attended, she said, but her notice from the town was mistakenly put in the wrong post office box. “I found out afterward,” she said.

Attorney Alison King, who represented the appeals board, suggested that if the appeal were being heard in court, the argument of a postage mistake might not be accepted. However, appeals board chairman Joanne Harris decided it was best to consider the appeal. “It was an honest mistake and we have to be reasonable,” she said.

In June, the planning board approved a building permit for Mr. Rich to construct two 50-foot-by-100-foot buildings, which were to be used for boat storage. In December, he went before the planning board a second time, getting unanimous approval to change the use of the buildings to include boat building and repair. The distinction between the two uses is important. The former only allows storage and work associated with commissioning and decommissioning boats. The latter allows all types of boat work, including construction, repairs and painting and varnishing.

Town officials are working on better definitions for these terms in the zoning ordinance and are expected to present amendments to voters in May. At the Feb. 9 hearing, Ms. Diedricksen said she has no problem with the buildings being used for storage. “I recognize the need of coexisting in a zone that allows mixed use,” she said. But, it appears the planning board did not consider the health hazards associated with the granting of the permit, she continued. Another neighboring property owner, Keith Higgins, agreed that the planning board should have taken other factors into consideration when granting the change of use. “I think the whole planning board missed the boat on this,” Mr. Higgins said. Mr. Higgins said he is less concerned about Mr. Rich’s use of the buildings than what could happen when Mr. Rich retires. “People using the buildings in the future might not be as respectful to the neighborhood,” Mr. Higgins said.

The chairman of the planning board, Mike Ryan, pointed out all the issues raised by Ms. Diedricksen and Mr. Higgins had been “thrashed to death by the planning board” before granting the permit. “Unless you can find a mistake in the findings of fact, we should be done here,” Mr. Ryan said. Carl Young, the town’s code enforcement officer, said, in his opinion, the granting of the change of use “was not contrary to the zoning ordinance and consistent with the comprehensive plan.”

While deliberating, board of appeals member Jim Keene noted the planning board had attempted to address many of the concerns raised by Ms. Diedricksen. The consensus of the three members present was that the planning board did not err in approving the change of use.