Shawn Grant on the docks July 16, 2018, at Brightside Marina, the business he owns in Belgrade Lakes Village. Andy Molloy/Kennebec Journal file

Brightside Marina owner Shawn Grant can no longer charge people to use the docks at his Great Pond Outlet Stream business.

That’s part of a consent agreement reached between Grant and the town of Belgrade, after the town prevailed in a lawsuit appealed all the way to the Maine Supreme Judicial Court.

While the agreement states he can no longer operate the marina, it states he can still let people use his docks — as long as he doesn’t charge a fee, which he said he plans to do rather than leave his would-be customers high and dry.

Grant also agreed to pay $20,000 in fines to the town.

He plans to continue operating his wooden boat repair and restoration business. Grant also will apply for a permit for commercial uses, including canoe and kayak rentals, boat charter services, boat sales and brokerage, and boat storage. Those activities have been taking place on part of his property, but unless he secures a new commercial permit they will no longer be allowed at the business’s location.

“I fought as hard as I could, and I lost,” Grant said Tuesday, about a week after a Superior Court judge approved the consent agreement. “Come hell or high water, my docks will stay in. If I have to continue to let (users of the docks) stay for free, I will.”

“The docks are in the water and they’re full,” he added. “I’m just not charging for them. I’m not going to abandon those people.”

The Maine Supreme Judicial Court ruled in December 2019, that the Belgrade Zoning Board of Appeals did not err in affirming the Planning Board’s previous decision to deny Grant shoreland zoning and business permits, under the Commercial Development Review Ordinance, for his existing site off Hulin Road in Belgrade Lakes Village.

Grant has been operating his business with a home occupancy permit, allowing him to do wooden boat repairs and restorations, which he said makes up about 70% of his business. But the business also grew to include additional boat-related commercial operations on property Grant owns on both sides of Hulin Road.

The town’s Appeals Board ruled his application for business operations, in addition to the wooden boat aspect of it, did not meet a requirement of a minimum lot size of 60,000 square feet for each commercial use and a minimum of 300 feet of uninterrupted shore frontage.

According to the Appeal Board’s denial, Grant’s property had 25,000 square feet of area and 200 feet of shore frontage.

Shawn Grant in the boatyard July 16, 2018, at Brightside Marina, the business he owns in Belgrade Lakes Village. Andy Molloy/Kennebec Journal file

Through his attorney, Grant argued that the commercial activity on both sides of the property, at 21 and 24 Hulin Road, was allowed because he had obtained a home occupancy permit in 2008 that allowed boat repairs.

Grant said he went to town officials and asked what he needed to operate a boatyard on his property, and they said what he needed was the home occupancy permit. He also said 21 and 24 Hulin Road should have been considered a single property, stating his deed described the parcels on both sides of what he described as a “one lane dead end camp road” as contiguous.

The court ruled the additional uses were not authorized under the 2008 home occupation permit.

The ruling also stated: “Additionally, the home occupation permit clearly does not allow Grant’s current and proposed uses at 24 Hulin Road. The 2008 home occupation permit for ‘Brightside Boat Services’ lists under business type simply ‘boat cleaning, painting and varnishing.’ The (Board of Appeals) did not err when it concluded that Grant’s 2008 home occupation permit did not extend to include his present activities at 24 Hulin Road and the record does not compel a contrary result.”

Michael Hodgins, the town’s attorney, said Tuesday that Grant can continue with his home occupation business of boat repair, “but he had some other activity that is beyond what’s in the home occupation permit. He needs to apply to get a permit to add those additional uses.”

The agreement gives Grant 90 days to apply for and secure a permit for the other commercial uses, or he must cease those uses.

Grant said he plans to do so.

He said he’s prepared to spend up to another $20,000 for legal and engineering fees to submit his application, though he said he is not confident that he’ll get the permit. He said he had signs up for years advertising boat slips and rentals and “everybody knew what I was doing,” but he didn’t run into any problems with town officials until he upgraded his docks.

He said he spent about $60,000 on the legal battle with the town.

Town Manager Anthony Wilson said the town spent a little less than $50,000 on the legal dispute with Grant.

Grant said the combined $110,000 in legal costs was “a ridiculous amount of money to spend” on the issue.

He said he’ll continue to let people dock their boats at the marina, which the consent agreement indicates has at least 20 slips and 10 moorings, at no charge. He said some users of the docks have places on islands and didn’t know how else they’d be able to access those properties without a place to keep their boats.

Related Headlines


Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.

filed under:

Kennebec Journal & Morning Sentinel news

Get news and events from your towns in your inbox every Friday.
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.