Belgrade officials seek legal help on lingering licensing issues related to boat trade

BELGRADE – Shawn Grant’s controversial boat business may be up and running after multiple zoning skirmishes with the city, but Belgrade officials have decided to seek legal advice on his latest license.

The Belgrade Council of Selected Persons on Monday unanimously granted permission to the Town Planning Council to seek legal counsel to answer questions about Grant’s coastal zoning permit application.

The latest move, after years of a dispute between Grant and the city, has Selectman Rick Damren openly questioning on Monday why the two sides are still spending money on the dispute.

“It doesn’t stop,” Damren said. “I can also search and dig up stuff. What do we gain? “

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

According to a memorandum from planning board chairman Peter Rushton to Selectpersons board, the board voted 4-1 at its meeting last Thursday to seek permission from the city’s governing body to seek legal advice on the zoning permit from the Brightside Marine coastline.

Owned by Grant, Brightside Marine is a restaurant and boat rental business operated on the same property as his Hulin Road home. It opened in 2008 as a home occupation under the city’s shores zoning ordinance.

The shoreline zoning permit is part of a consent agreement reached with the city in July 2020 following a lawsuit over the authorization of Grant’s docks. The city won the lawsuit, with the Maine Supreme Court ruling that Grant could no longer require people to use the docks at his Great Pond outflow business. Grant was also ordered to pay a fine of $ 20,000.

Meanwhile, some neighbors continued to criticize the Brightside Marine business, saying they were concerned about the value of the property, the quality of the lake and interactions between neighbors.

Grant has already changed his home occupancy permit to commercial, but Grant must also obtain a shoreline zoning permit to be in compliance with the consent agreement.

According to Rushton’s memorandum, members of the Planning Council have contacted the Maine Municipal Association and the Maine Department of Environmental Protection about this. As part of the permit, Grant intends to hire employees as part of the change in commercial use. No construction is proposed in the request.

The Planning Council has listed seven questions it wants to be answered by city attorney Mike Hodgkins regarding the business permit on a property located on two different non-conforming lots, confirming the size and location of the lot and whether the permit meets the minimum lot standards.

The council’s findings indicate that both uses and structures require 100,000 square feet of land area, but there is only 68,875 square feet in the waterfront area.

Rushton told the board he hoped the issue would be resolved after the clearance process.

Augusta attorney Roger Katz, who represents Brightside, attended the meeting on Monday, but board chair Melanie Jewell said she was uncomfortable having a lawyer speak when meeting with only one side shown. The five members of the Board of Selectmen agreed.

Samantha Grant, Shawn Grant’s wife, said she supports the Planning Council in seeking legal approval. However, she wanted to involve their legal advisor in questions to the lawyer.

“This was a city-mandated request, and I want to point out that we’re moving on to legal fees,” she said. “As a taxpayer, this doesn’t sound like a good expenditure of taxpayer dollars.”

Jewell offered to ask for a lawyer and the council voted.

“Once we have answers,” Jewell said, “we need to have an executive session with the two lawyers present. This is how we’re going to proceed.


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