Shawn Grant’s lot may not be big enough to grant a shoreland zoning permit, leaving the Belgrade businessman’s attempt at compliance with a consent order in flux.

The town Planning Board discussed answers provided in a memo from town attorney Michael Hodgins about Grant’s application for a shoreland zoning permit for his boat business. Belgrade’s Board of Selectpersons unanimously approved the planning board’s pursuit of legal opinion to answer questions related to the permit at a meeting last week.

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

“Because the combined lots within the shoreland zone still appear to be undersized, such commercial use would create an impermissible expansion of the nonconforming condition,” as determined by the settlement agreement, Hodgins wrote in the memo.

No action was taken during Thursday evening’s Planning Board meeting, but the Maine Department of Environmental Protection issued a similar memo with similar wording to Hodgins’, Planning Board Chairman Peter Rushton said.

Brightside Marine is a boat restoration and rental business located at 21 Hulin Road near Belgrade Lakes Village. Opened by Grant in 2008 under a home occupation permit, he changed his business permitting to commercial as part of a consent agreement reached with the town in July 2020 after a lawsuit regarding Grant’s docks. Obtaining a shoreland zoning permit is another element of the settlement agreement.

No construction is proposed in Grant’s application.

Some of the lots Grant owns should be merged according to the shoreland zoning ordinance, Hodgins wrote, thus making the area less than 100,000 square feet, not large enough to comply with the zoning ordinance.

Hodgins wrote the business could continue with its home occupation permit within the shoreland zone and consider commercial uses on other properties outside the shoreland zone.

“However, the Commercial Development Review Ordinance approval was conditioned upon the existing site plan and dependent upon approval of a Shoreland Zoning Permit, so the Commercial Development Review permit would need to be revisited and amended because it is ineffective without the Shoreland Zoning Permit,” Hodgins wrote. “To the extent the boat repair shop requires a larger footprint or more employees, Brightside would have to move or reconstruct the boat repair garage entirely outside of the Shoreland Zone, assuming the remaining land can support that activity consistent with existing ordinances.”

Shawn Grant’s wife, Samantha, asked if the side where the business is could be separated as a different use under different permitting.

“The issue is, I don’t know that there’s 60,000 square feet of area with the shoreland zone, so you might literally have to move the commercial uses from the 250 foot border,” Hodgins said.

Planning Board member Richard Baker believes the lot on the side away from the shoreland zone is not large enough to stand alone for permitting. The vote for a permit will come during a subsequent planning board meeting.

“I’m hopeful we can use this (memo) for similar cases in the future,” Planning Board member George Seel said.

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