ORLEANS — The zoning board declined to sink the Atlantic Workshop’s boat last week, leaving it up to Building Commissioner Tom Evers to fire another warning shot across its bow.
The woodworking workshop at 94 Main St. was allowed by special permit as a customary home occupation by the board in 2017, with a number of conditions ranging from no retail sales to no signage and including an annual review. Since then, neighbors have complained to the board about stepped-up activity and traffic at the corner of Main and Tonset.
In June, Building Commissioner Tom Evers wrote to owner Scott Feen that a wooden boat with “Atlantic Workshop” on its side constituted a sign and had to be removed in 30 days or fines would be imposed. Feen appealed the decision, and his case was heard Sept. 2. His attorney argued that Evers’s letter “doesn’t have the citation of any violation of law or statutes proposed to have been violated.” It doesn’t matter, Anthony Panebianco said, “if I can surmise what is is.” It’s an “affirmative duty” of the zoning officer to cite a specific offense and the time and date thereof.
“I’ll ask the board,” chairman Michael Marnik said. “Was the notice on its face deficient, and we ought to all go home tonight” without a hearing on the merits. That appealed to member Bruce Taub. “Just give it to him,” he said, “and we’ll let the chips fall where they may. Mr. Evers can take care of himself in this.”
Member Gerald Mulligan was the very definition of fed up. “I’m struck with turning all the town employees into lawyers as they do their jobs,” he said. “Everybody has to be a lawyer to serve anywhere in this town… That you may understand what the purpose was but our building inspector didn’t use the proper legal terminology in the notice is to me ridiculous.”
“We don’t say that,” Panebianco replied. “We question, ‘Is it because it’s a boat? Is it the location of the boat? What is he arguing against?”
The board agreed to move forward with the hearing, during which the attorney said that the town requires that vessels not titled or registered display the owner’s name and that there are no restrictions on storing a boat on a residential property. “What Mr. Evers and this board have decided is to limit the small business opportunities, to limit the beautification of Main Street,” Panebianco said.
“I resent the applicant telling this board what our motives are and how we enforce the zoning bylaw,” Marnik said. “The fact of the matter is we allowed the home occupation there with a condition that says there’s not to be any sign on the property.”
After hearing criticism of the business from neighbors and words of support from David Ferraresi, who said he lives “within a mile” of the Workshop and had started a petition to back Feen that gathered more than 400 signatures, the board voted 3-2 to deny the appeal. Because a fourth vote to deny was not secured, the appeal was granted.
It will now be up to Evers to issue a revised letter citing specific chapter and verse of the violation. An email message to Evers Monday asking whether he would issue a revised violation letter had not been answered by press time Tuesday.