Whether lighting and stormwater management of a Main Street parking lot were compliant when a letter was issued to lift a cease and desist order was the subject of an appeal before the Board of Appeals last week. ISLANDER PHOTO BY SARAH HINCKLEY

Hearing postponed until proper reading can be taken 

SOUTHWEST HARBOR–Neighbors to a Main Street parking lot are arguing a cease and desist order was lifted before the property was fully in compliance with the town’s land use ordinance. 

In a second appeal filed by Jennifer and Jay Perruzzi regarding the parking lot constructed last year at 376 Main Street, the couple questioned whether standards for lighting and stormwater runoff had been met before Code Enforcement Officer John Larson issued a letter of compliance at the end of February allowing the order to be lifted. 

“The lighting we have substantial issues with even now,” said Jay Perruzzi during a presentation to the Board of Appeals that voted in favor of hearing the case de novo.  

During the teleconference meeting via Zoom on April 29, members of the Board of Appeals denied one aspect of the Perruzzi’s appeal regarding stormwater management on the property after engineer Greg Johnston told the board it had been completed according to approved plans.  

“The substance for an appeal is facts,” said Johnston during the appeal hearing. “This appeal has no facts to support these things are happening out there. I don’t think it’s right to file an appeal without evidence.” 

In regards to the appeal about lighting in the lot, members of the Board of Appeals voted to continue the hearing once a fifth light reading could be taken to measure the luminance, which is not to exceed 0.1 foot candle, according to the town’s ordinance. Proper shielding of the lights is what is being questioned. 

“The permanent shields are done now,” said electrician Stephen Stanley during the hearing. He added that the project was completed the third week of April. “Our light levels in the parking lot are really low. We do not spill light over the fences onto properties. The shields are done and they should be fine for the ordinance.” 

Ted Fletcher, a member of the town’s appeals board, stated he was not convinced the lighting was compliant on Feb. 28 when the letter was issued from Larson.  

Three light readings taken by certified electricians in the lot were submitted to Larson before he issued the letter of compliance. Another reading has been taken by Jay Perruzzi, a certified electrician, who stated during the meeting that his reading had very different findings than the three filed with the town.  

“These lights do affect our home,” said Jennifer Perruzzi who owns property across the street from the lot but is registered to vote in Tremont. “We’re right across the street from this.” 

Last October, a cease and desist order was issued to John and Martha ‘Marty’ Williams, who own the lot, citing it was not completed according to plans approved by the town’s Planning Board.  

A public hearing took place in December regarding changes to the lighting, stormwater management and buffering aspects of the plan for the parking lot. Changes to lighting and stormwater were approved by the Planning Board at that meeting.  

At a Jan. 2 Planning Board meeting, the buffering plan was changed and approved to include fencing along 3 Rod Road with a gate at one of the entrances from that lot onto the private road. There are three entrances onto 3 Rod Road from the lot. At the end of that meeting, the other two were going to be left open. 

Following that decision, the Perruzzis and neighbor Joel Wolak appealed the Planning Board’s decision. Wolak contested the buffering on the project and the Perruzzis appealed commercial use of 3 Rod Road, a private road that runs along the south side of the parking lot. Members of the Board of Appeals voted to send that issue back to the planning board for further review.  

“We’re not saying it can’t be a parking lot,” said Jennifer Perruzzi. “It has to be done properly…. This is a target that doesn’t stand still long enough for us to shoot it.” 

There are five light posts around the perimeter of the property. At the end of last week, each fixture had vertical shields on three sides with an angled shield on the side facing into the parking lot.  

“The lights are better now,” said northerly neighbor Gretchen Strong during the hearing. She owns Penury Hall Bed and Breakfast on Main Street. “They’ve been worked on and they’re better now.” 

The town’s appeals board member Jim Geary moved to continue the hearing once another light reading of the parking lot in its current condition could be taken.  

“I would argue that cease and desist order would be lifted if you make no decision tonight,” said Town Manager Justin VanDongen during the hearing. He also pointed out the person designated to take the reading would not be the one to determine compliance; that is the board’s responsibility. 

All five members of the Board of Appeals voted in favor of continuing the meeting once a reading was completed.  

“I think the project is done when the shielding is done and the lighting meets the standard,” said Lunn Sawyer, chair of the appeals board. “I think it could have been handled a lot better by the Planning Board. Had it been handled better, we wouldn’t be here.”

Sarah Hinckley

Sarah Hinckley

Former Islander reporter Sarah Hinckley covered the towns of Southwest Harbor, Tremont and neighboring islands.

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