BELGRADE — A procedural request discussed during Thursday night’s virtual Belgrade Planning Board public hearing and meeting sparked plenty of discussion that at times grew testy.

Shawn Grant, owner of Brightside Wooden Boat Services off Hulin Road, submitted a commercial application to the Planning Board for his business.

“I need to know what we’re being asked to approve, because you’re certainly not being helpful,” George Seel told Grant during a question-and-answer session between the Planning Board and Grant’s team.

“That’s certainly not my intent,,” Grant said, “because I am not enjoying any of this time.”

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

Part of a consent agreement reached with the town in July 2020 after a lawsuit on permitting of Grant’s docks at Brightside Marina, the hefty 192-page application seeks to change the permitting of Grant’s building from home occupation to commercial.

“At this point, he wishes to be able to expand his business and catch up with some things that he’s doing,” Jeff Allen of A.E. Hodsdon Consulting Engineers said on Grant’s behalf, “and, thankfully, hiring more people because the business is growing.”

Grant has operated his wooden boat repair and restoration business under a home occupation since 2008. The business can continue operating even if the commercial permit application is unsuccessful, but services will be limited.

Belgrade Planning Board Chairperson Peter Rushton confirmed the application was deemed complete by legal counsel.

Three of five Planning Board members raised questions to Grant and his team. The members whom asked questions requested additional details on storage spaces, waste management processes, phosphorous management and more.

Planning Board member Mac Stocco questioned why the land is referenced as one parcel and not two.

“The deeds don’t match that,” Stocco said. “It’s not one giant lot.”

Allen said the tax maps were outdated. Gant added he now owns the entire parcel, having acquired an area through an easement. Allen said temporary structures were not included on the site plan because of their nonpermanent nature.

The Belgrade Planning Board presented guidelines during Thursday evening’s planning board. Screen shot via Zoom.

“Typically, when we’re looking for what’s on a plan, we’re asking for what’s on the ground,” Rushton said. “They should match.”

Belgrade Code Enforcement Officer Gary Fuller said the town does not consider a shed temporary. Seel read the town’s definition of a structure, which fit the bill for a shed. Structures are taxable.

Grant does not believe the sheds are structures and that he could “pick them up tomorrow and move them again.”

Seel asked a handful of questions and made it clear there is no opportunity to add to the site beyond what is approved by the planning board.

Belgrade Planning Board Member George Seel.

“We don’t write blank checks,” he said, before a 20-plus minute series of questions and answers ensued between Seel and Grant.

Following the Planning Board’s discussion with Grant and his team, other interested parties shared their thoughts. Both sides spoke.

Ed and Cindy Wurpel said they have no problem with the commercial permit application.

There was a large crowd at the Belgrade Planning Board’s public hearing. Screengrab via Zoom.

Terry Terhune expressed concern over expanding boat storage “degrading the value of properties” due to a visual burden. Susan Terhune said the potential impact on the neighborhood, and also downtown, should be considered.

“I feel very strongly that Shawn is not a good neighbor,” Susan Terhune said. “To be met with someone who has the hostility that he has is not fun.”

Monika Schuler posed a concern about any expansion of Grant’s business contaminating surrounding well water.

Grant said Schuler’s property is 15 to 20 feet higher in elevation, and that it is “a physical impossibility.”

Monika Schuler. Screengrab via Zoom.

“What you are proposing is somewhat vague,” Schuler said. “We are hearing from you, sir, that you want to expand your business because you are forced to do so… With that comes material, and when you develop your new facility on the property abutting mind, there is that risk of runoff.”

Grant replied that he is not asking for any new development. Any additional development requests would have to come before the planning board in a new application, Grant’s wife, Mandy, added.

Schuler expressed concern about piles of “junk” in the area.

“Monica, you’re going off the rails here,” Grant said. “You can’t call what I own and what I love junk.”

Ethan Harrington acknowledged the importance of groundwater monitoring, but thinks Grant’s business is important. Brightside Wooden Boat Services is a year-round endeavor. A handful of other residents spoke on both sides of the issue.

The Planning Board will vote on the application at a later date. The board’s next meeting is scheduled to begin at 6 p.m. on April 1.


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