Shawn Grant in the boatyard July 16, 2018, at Brightside Marina, the business he owns in Belgrade Lakes Village. As part of a ruling by the Maine Supreme Judicial Court, Grant is applying for a commercial permit application. A public hearing is planned Thursday. Andy Molloy/Kennebec Journal file

As part of a consent agreement stemming from a state supreme court case between the town of Belgrade and Brightside Marina owner Shawn Grant, the Planning Board plans to hold a public hearing on Grant’s commercial permit application during its meeting Thursday at 6 p.m. via Zoom.

The 192-page application spells out how Grant intends to operate his boat restoration shop and storage yard at Brightside Wooden Boat Services off Hulin Road.

“It was part of what I was asked to do,” Grant said in a phone interview Tuesday. “We’re not asking to build anything. We’re just looking to convert the permit, as we were asked to do.”

Brightside Wooden Boat Services started as a wooden boat repair business. The company repairs fiberglass boats, rents boats, runs boat tours, stores boats, repairs and sells electric motors. The application was filed Sept. 28, 2020.

Grant filed a lawsuit in late 2018 against the town regarding his property and his docks at the marina. The town of Belgrade and Grant reached an agreement in July 2020 in a case that went to the Maine Supreme Judicial Court. The town won the lawsuit. The court ruled that Grant could no longer charge people to use the docks at his Great Pond Outlet Stream business as part of the consent agreement.

“As part of the consent agreement, (Grant) agreed to seek a commercial permit for all of the other activities beyond the scope of the home occupation permit,” Belgrade Town Manager Anthony Wilson said. “That’s what’s going on right now.”

Wilson believes it is unlikely that the permit will be voted on Thursday, but it is not out of the realm of possibility. Because the application is so involved, it may take more than one meeting for the five-member board to reach a conclusion.

“The process is very organic, so it will take as much time as it needs to take,” Wilson said. “The board is focused on getting this done right, as opposed to getting a decision done quickly.”

The consent agreement stated Grant could no longer operate the marina, but he could still let people use his docks — for free. Grant also agreed to pay $20,000 in fines to the town for running the unpermitted docks.

Grant has continued to operate his wooden boat repair and restoration business under a home occupation permit which was issued in 2008. That permit did not allow the additional uses of the property, the court ruled.

“I’ve only paid $12,500 so far, I’m not ashamed to admit it,” Grant said. “Part of the repercussions were the $20,000 fine plus I had to apply for the commercial business application. I am doing exactly what the court ordered me to do.”

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 shoreline zoning and business permits under the Commercial Development Review Ordinance.

The town’s Appeals Board ruled in 2018 his application for business operations did not meet the requirement for a minimum lot size of 60,000 square feet for each commercial use and a minimum of 300 feet of uninterrupted shore frontage. Grant’s space was 25,000 square feet and 200 feet of shore frontage.

Brightside Wooden Boat Services can continue under its home permit even if the commercial permit is unsuccessful, but the business might not be able to do as much, Grant said.

“I’m very very frustrated,” Grant said. “I’ve spent four years and over $100,000 trying to keep a little business alive in this little community. It’s out of control.”

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