ISLANDER PHOTO BY SARAH HINCKLEY

Planning Board asks for completed plan from MDI Lobster



SOUTHWEST HARBORHad it taken place at the municipal building, last Thursday night’s Planning Board meeting would have been a packed room; instead, it was a crowded Zoom. 

More than 30 people, including four lawyers, joined the video teleconference. Most were present to participate in the public hearing for Clark Point Road business, MDI Lobster. Several neighbors, some through their lawyers, voiced concerns about an incomplete application, lack of a stormwater and erosion plan and buffering, among other things.  

Members of the board deemed the application for the project complete mid-May. After several members of the public questioned whether it was complete during the public hearing, the board ultimately voted to move the performance review for the property until their next meeting, pending submittal of an updated application and site plan. 

“One of my biggest concerns to start out with is the scope of the project,” said John Carroll who lives next door to MDI Lobster. “This building is going to be right in my face out my front door… We need to look at the scale and see if it fits the neighborhood.” 

Previously, the owners of MDI Lobster presented plans for a three-sided, 1,400 square foot building with 135 seats for dining inside and outside. Plans presented at this meeting showed a longer building and four walls instead of three, according to one member of the board. 

“I think we should go back to the beginning,” said board member Jack Ksionzyk. “This is the third time they’ve made it different with a new drawing and everything. We need a decent plan. One that’s all drawn up. One that’s final.” 

Fellow board member Ben ‘Lee’ Worcester agreed. 

“You’re right, it’s not like it’s one little thing,” he said. “It’s a lot of things… I think it might be helpful for the Planning Board and the public to go through a list of these things to say where they are.” 

Attorney Andrew Hamilton, who is representing John Carroll, listed several aspects of the application that were missing. They included a permit from the water and sewer district for increased use of services, a building plan built to scale, review by the state for a food service facility, plans meeting American Disabilities Act standards and a plan for management of stormwater and erosion. Hamilton told the board the application needed to be deemed incomplete.  

“Why? Because the neighbors deserve the protection of the ordinance,” he added.  

Another attorney, Patrick Lyons, attended the meeting representing neighbor John Clark. He explained he was hired in 2018 when Clark and other neighbors complained about loud noise that went on throughout the day and night on the property from a refrigerated trailer that stored frozen bait.  

Owners of MDI Lobster were served a cease and desist order because of the noise. Lyons asked the board to hold off issuing any new permits until the noise issue is resolved.  

“We need to verify this noise buffer is actually effective,” he added.  

While several members of the board and public questioned whether the lot at 126 Clark Point Road would have enough room to accommodate the required parking for the project, one neighbor voiced concern about it spilling onto the road. 

“I’m hoping that parking on Clark Point Road is not permitted as part of this process,” said Peter Homer.  

There are several bed & breakfasts and inns on Clark Point Road, some who have claimed a loss in business because of previous practices by MDI Lobster.  

“Other businesses want to do business, but they want to stop us from doing business,” said Cheryl Harper, owner of the MDI Lobster property, who has run a business at the location before. “We’re a long-term, grandfathered business. These guys aren’t doing anything different than I did… We never had any complaints; look it up in my history.” 

Following several more complaints from neighbors regarding noise, parking and buffering, co-owner Nicholas Sayre responded in an explosive manner. 

“It’s getting ridiculous with the neighbors,” he said. “They know what the parking’s like. I’m done.” 

Hamilton pointed out the requests from those at the meeting were not personal; they were part of protocol. 

“This is about whether the application meets the review standards and there’s gaps,” he said, continuing to address the board. “The facts have to be laid before you specifically, which hasn’t been done. We all have to do our job. My job is to call it out if there’s a variance. You have to have all the materials to do your jobs. That’s not personal; that’s just an observation of fact.” 

 

Sarah Hinckley

Sarah Hinckley

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

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