Files court action to appeal ZBA decision

Neighbor fighting Camden Harbour Inn expansion plans

By Stephanie Grinnell | Mar 10, 2014

Camden — A close neighbor of Camden Harbour Inn has filed an appeal of governmental action against the town's Zoning Board of Appeals after it approved a special exception to allow expansion of the inn.

In paperwork filed in Knox County courts, Susan Bryant, states the special exception granted Jan. 23 by the ZBA should not have been approved because Camden Harbour Inn is already a nonconforming use within the Traditional Village District.

Bryant, who is an attorney, asked the court to render the ZBA decision invalid. The documents state the ZBA erred in granting the special exception in part because the addition of 10 rooms to the 20-room inn constitutes a 50 percent expansion, while the zoning ordinance restricts nonconforming structures to a 30 percent expansion. In 1992, before the current zoning was put in place, Camden Harbour Inn had 22 rooms; based on adding eight rooms, the expansion would be 36 percent, court documents state, still greater than the 30 percent allowance.

There are several counts listed against the ZBA. Count 1 alleges "the granting of the special exception by the Board of Appeals is not authorized under the zoning ordinance." The second count also alleges the special exception is not valid based on the town's zoning ordinances. The ordinance itself — Article VIII, Section 7C(11) — is cited in the third count, which addresses parking changes.

"Since the special exception was based on incorrect and misleading data, the action should be voided," court paperwork filed by Bryant states.

The inn has 30 days to respond.

Camden Harbour Inn first appeared before the Planning Board during a pre-application hearing Dec. 5, 2013. During that meeting, Will Gartley of Gartley and Dorsky Engineering queried the Planning Board regarding parking requirements around the anticipated renovations and addition, according to meeting minutes. He said the ordinance requires one parking space per room and one parking space per four dining room seats. Currently, Gartley said, the inn has 60 available spaces for parking. The expansion, at that time, was planned for seven rooms, with the inn owners willing to give up 16 seats in the dining room to free four of the seven additional required parking spaces if expansion is approved. The other three parking spaces would be underneath the vertical expansion, according to Gartley.

Due to zoning restrictions regarding parking in front of residences, Planning Board members suggested combining the inn lot with the adjacent residential one owned by Camden Harbour Inn co-owner Raymond Brunyanszki; an option Gartley said is available.

The ZBA met to discuss the request for a special exception and host a hearing Jan. 23, 2014. According to court documents, neighbors spoke during the hearing and cited issues such as early morning noise, idling delivery trucks and illegal parking as well as nuisance smokers in the area. The special exception was approved by the ZBA and sent back to the Planning Board. The Planning Board has not yet addressed the expansion but is next scheduled to meet March 19. No agenda for that meeting has been released.

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Stephanie Grinnell
(207) 236-8511 ext. 302
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Stephanie has served as editor of Camden Herald since its return in April 2012.

Previously, she was editor of VillageSoup's Capital Weekly in Augusta and has worked a number of years in the newspaper business from southern Maine to Waldo County.

Outside the office, she enjoys reading, cooking and gardening.

Stephanie lives in Washington with her husband Jeff, four children, a dog named Chewbacca, a rabbit and two chickens.

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