Belgrade boat shop owner must pay city $ 20,000 for unauthorized commercial use

The owner of Brightside Wooden Boat Services has agreed to pay the city of Belgrade $ 20,000 in a deal that arose out of a three-year dispute over the nature of his business that went to the Supreme Court of state justice.

Shawn Grant, in an enforcement action regarding unauthorized business activity at 24 Hulin Road, on Mill Stream, agreed to pay $ 20,000 within 21 days of the agreement being accepted on July 2 by the Superior Court of Kennebec County. Mill Stream connects the Great and Long Ponds in the Belgrade Lakes Village, and the Hulin Road runs alongside it.

Grant owns three lots on Hulin Road, near where the creek meets Great Pond. His home and most of the business are at 21 Hulin Road, across from the water. In 2008, he obtained an occupancy permit from the town planning council house to “clean, paint and varnish the boats” on the property.

The dispute mainly centered around 24 Hulin Road, which sits on the bank of the creek. The 25,000 square foot lot has 200 feet of frontage on the creek as well as a small house that he rents. Grant installed docks on the property several years ago and expanded his boat repair business to include boat mooring and rental.

After complaints in 2017 from neighbors about traffic on the narrow Hulin Road and in the creek, as well as problems with parking cars at 24 Hulin Road, the city told Grant it needed to get a business permit to the marina.

Photo / Maureen Milliken

24 Hulin Road, on the left, and 21 Hulin Road, on the right, are at the center of a dispute in Belgrade over permitted commercial uses. The city argued, and the courts accepted, that a marina at 24 Hulin Road, as well as other activities at 21 Hulin Road, was not permitted under the license of Brightside Boat Services.

Grant applied for a seasonal dock and boat rental company at 24 Hulin Road under the city’s Business Development Review Order and the Shore Zoning Order. Council denied the request, concluding that the property did not meet minimum lot standards.

In May 2018, Grant filed an appeal with the city’s Zoning Appeal Board, arguing that the Shoreland Zoning Ordinance had been misinterpreted in his case. He also proposed to remove the residence at 24 Hulin Road, so that the lot would have one main use instead of two. The council held a “de novo” hearing – re-examining the request for any order that might apply, but dismissed its appeal, again citing the size of the lot.

Then grant took the matter to Superior Court, which in February 2019 upheld the zoning council’s decision. Grant appealed the Superior Court’s decision to the Maine Supreme Court, which dismissed the appeal in December. This action spurred the settlement, which was approved by the Belgrade Select Board on June 16 and by the Kennebec County Superior Court on July 2.

Under the terms of the agreement, Grant:

  • Pay the city $ 20,000 by July 23.
  • No commercial activity at 24, chemin Hulin, although docks may remain. Grant can let others use them, but cannot charge for their use or activities that require the use of this property’s land.
  • Apply for a permit for additional commercial uses at 21 Hulin Road that are beyond the scope of the home occupancy permit, which allowed the boats to be cleaned, painted and varnished. The court agreed that the business has evolved to include the rental of canoes, kayaks, paddleboards and boats; boat rental services; sale and brokerage of boat sales; and boat storage. The new permit application must be submitted and approved by the city within 90 days, or the additional commercial uses must cease.
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