Show is on at the Barn

TREMONT — The planning board last week cleared the way for an arts group to use a barn on the Tremont Road for public performances.

The Barn Arts Collective, formerly known as the Mohawk Arts Collective, was given approval to hold theatrical performances on the property, which is owned by collective founder Andrew Simon and his brother, Matthew.

Code enforcement officer and assessor Debbi Nickerson said the board voted 5-0 at their May 26 meeting to approve a change-of-use application for the property as an “institutional” use.

The zoning ordinance defines institutional as “a nonprofit or quasi-public use, or institution such as a church, library, public or private school, hospital or municipally owned or operated building, structure or land used for public purposes.” The arts group, Nickerson said, is in the process of obtaining nonprofit status.

According to the Barn Arts Collective website, their mission is to “encourage community through the practice and presentation of live arts events.” Along with creating their own performance pieces, the collective hosts artists-in-residency, offers arts education programs to local nonprofit organizations and conduct arts workshops for young people, the statement continues.

Andrew Simon first approached the planning board in October with an after-the-fact application submitted in response to a notice from Nickerson stating the group was violating zoning ordinances by using the barn as a theater. A sign on the property also was thought to be larger than allowed. The planning board found that application to be incomplete.

Simon then applied for a change of use as a home occupation business. The planning board again said no.

The third time proved to be the charm. The board last week agreed that the collective should be granted a change of use under the definition of an institution.

Nickerson said the board found the sign to be in compliance and that the property met the minimum parking standards for its intended use. The application shows two parking spaces for residents and four for customers.

Parking, however, could become an issue. The collective has been hosting events at the barn since 2008. It wasn’t until August 2014 that the notice of violation was issued. People attending these events have become accustomed to parking across the street from the barn in municipal lots.

This, as pointed out at other meetings of the planning board, would be in violation of the traffic and parking ordinance, which reads that parking in the community building lot is permitted only for people “engaged in authorized municipal and/or school activities.” That same restriction applies to the adjacent Murphy lot with the addition that parking is permitted only during the school year.

Mark Good

Mark Good

Reporter at Mount Desert Islander
Mark Good

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