SOUTHWEST HARBOR — Without a clear understanding of the Planning Board’s decision for a Main Street parking lot, members of the Board of Appeals didn’t feel they could make a decision regarding the concerns of abutting neighbors.
All five members of the Board of Appeals voted in favor of rescheduling their Feb. 19 hearing until they had an official copy of the Planning Board’s decision to review. An appeals board meeting has been rescheduled for 6 p.m. on March 4 at the town office.
Jennifer and Jay Perruzzi own property across the street from the 376 Main Street parking lot constructed last year by John and Martha “Marty” Williams who own the Drydock Inn and Café. Joel Wolak owns property on Wesley Avenue, which runs along the north side of the parking lot property. The property owners are appealing aspects of the parking lot project that has gone before the town’s Planning Board at least five times, most recently on Jan. 2 to review changes to the original plan.
“We left that January meeting not even sure what they decided on,” Jay Perruzzi told the appeals board.
The neighbors’ appeal focuses on the use of 3 Rod Road, a private road that runs along the south side of the parking lot. According to the Perruzzis, that road is not built for commercial use. They believe the Planning Board’s decision to allow three access points from the parking lot onto the road open for possible traffic violates the road design standards of the town’s land use ordinance.
“We came with the ordinance and raised the question and presented it to them and it was not really considered,” said Jennifer Perruzzi about attending the Jan. 2 Planning Board meeting. “We didn’t feel that the ordinance was saying that could be used commercially.”
Wolak is appealing the Planning Board’s decision regarding buffering, or what he considers lack thereof, on the property.
“The applicant did plant some small trees,” Wolak said referring to the current buffering of the parking lot from 3 Rod Road. “They are more like whips. The plantings they did plant I’m not going to see buffering in my lifetime.”
After hearing both cases, the Board of Appeals decided the arguments were part of the same decision made by the planning board. Wolak argues the buffering plan approved is not adequate, which includes fencing that allows the three entrances onto 3 Rod Road to remain open. In the same vein, the Perruzzis argue if those entrances are used, it is commercial use of a private road that is not built to accommodate more than residential traffic.
“The question is, is there a decision or a permit that allows the Williamses to use this road, and as far as we know, the answer is no,” said appeals board member Ted Fletcher in questioning whether there was a case for an appeal.
“We feel they did when they allowed the entrances to remain unsolidly fenced,” said Jennifer Perruzzi about the Planning Board decision. “When they left those entrances open, they didn’t buffer them at all. John said from time to time, at his discretion he would open them.
“That is granting him access to dump whatever out of his commercial parking lot onto 3 Rod Road,” she added. “Because they’re not requiring him, like they were, to fence it.”
Neither party — the Perruzzis, Wolaks or Williams — had a copy of the map upon which the last official decision made by the Planning Board was clear.
During the Jan. 2 meeting, a map of the parking lot was altered with red marker to show the area where a fence for buffering would be installed. Board members agreed to approve a gate in that fence at the first entrance onto 3 Rod Road and no fence at the other two entrances.
“Originally were going to put a fence up along those entrances,” Williams told the Board of Appeals. “These are our exits. I said, ‘wait, we’re not going to buffer our exits’. We have legal ingress and egress on these three exits here.”
While that point has been questioned and can only be decided in court, not by a local governing board, the Board of Appeals will continue the hearing on March 4 to determine if the appealing parties have standing.
“If the Planning Board approved this, with this labeled as an entrance, then we’re in a different place in our hearing,” said Fletcher. “That might suggest to me there might have been an action on the part of the Planning Board from which an appeal can be taken.”