CHATHAM – Chatham Bars Inn has been ordered to stop using the former Chatham Bowling Alley building on Chatham Bars Avenue that it purchased last year.
The conservation commission also issued a stop work order to halt paving work on the south side of the building that was within 100 feet of a wetland and had not been permitted.
The inn has reportedly been using the former bowling alley building at 45 Chatham Bars Ave. for laundry dropoff and pickup. At least twice daily, in the early morning and in the evening, trucks stop at the brick building and load or unload laundry.
Town officials have ruled that the previous uses of both buildings have been abandoned, since they have not been used for more than two years. The former bowling alley was previously used as storage, while the building at 20 Chatham Bars Ave. was previously a dormitory for CBI employees. Both are located in residential zoning districts, and any use other than residential would require approval by the zoning board of appeals.
CBI bought both properties last fall for $2 million from the Great American Life Insurance Company, which retained the parcels after selling the inn to Richard Cohen in 2008. According to Building Commissioner Justin Post, he issued a building permit for the former bowling alley building last November for structural repairs to the roof.
“They needed the roof and building repaired for public safety,” he said. A permit was also issued for mold remediation.
In May a permit was issued to 20 Chatham Bars Ave. for reshingling of the building. Community Development Director Deanna Ruffer characterized all of the permits as “make safe,” meaning their goal is to address public safety concerns. Post said no use or occupancy of either building is allowed under the permits.
A zoning violation and enforcement order was issued May 5 ordering CBI to cease and desist all activity connected with the use of 45 Chatham Bars Ave., which is considered abandoned for two or more years under state and local laws. The order states that continued use of the structure could result in a fine of $100 per day. The inn has 30 days from the receipt of the order to file an appeal with the zoning board of appeals.
As of early this week, CBI had not filed any plans for the buildings with the town.
“We really want them to do voluntary compliance,” Post said. “We're hoping they come in within this amount of days, state what they want to do with it and go through the local process.”
Natural Resources Director Robert Duncanson said CBI put in haybales to stabilize the driveway area on the south side of the building after a stop work order was issued. Old pavement had been removed from the area, which is within 100 feet of a wetland and within the jurisdiction of the conservation commission. The driveway and parking area on the north side of the building had already been repaved.
Duncanson said that as of early this week, CBI had not filed paperwork related to the matter as requested by the commission.
Several calls to CBI General Manager John Speers were not returned.
The inn and town are currently in court over the 2014 taking of an easement on land at the municipal fish pier. The town paid the inn $100,000 for the 10,566 square feet of land adjacent to the lower level parking area, but the inn is asking that a jury decide how much the land is worth.