Freedom – November 11, 2006 — Ossipee Lake Marina will be back before Freedom’s Zoning Board of Adjustment on Tuesday, December 12 to seek approval to store more boats on its Broad Bay property. The meeting is a continuance of the Board’s November 28 meeting.
The Marina is asking that the Board approve construction of a large fence behind which it wants to store an unlimited number of boats, or at least a number higher than 23, which is the current limit for boats and trailers stored outside the Marina’s three boat storage buildings.
At the initial discussion of the plan on November 28 the applicant indicated the fenced area would encompass several acres of land between Marina Road, the main entrance to the business, and Alvino Road, a narrow residential road the ZBA has ruled off limits for Marina use.
The site of the proposed fenced area is where the Marina constructed two 50′ x 200′ storage buildings in 1997 after the ZBA granted a special exception to consolidate boat storage on the property in the new buildings and a pre-existing third building. As a condition of its approval the Board said no more than 225 boats could be stored inside the three buildings and no more than 10% additional boats and trailers could be placed outside the buildings.
The fence proposal is the Marina’s latest effort to increase the ZBA’s limits. In 2002 the business applied to expand the three storage buildings and rebuild a fourth building that was constructed without ZBA approval. Zoning officials were unaware of the fourth building until it collapsed during a snow storm during the winter of 2001.
After the storage expansion application was denied as an impermissible expansion of a non-conforming use, the Marina sued the town in State Superior Court and lost.
Long-standing conflicts between the Marina and its neighbors resurfaced during the discussion of the plan at the November 28 meeting. As reported by area newspapers, YMCA Camp Huckins executive director Jody Skelton spoke about the impact of more boats on the lake, and 25 letters were submitted to the Board by those opposed to the plan.
Saying they worried about the increased danger of fire on the property, abutting property owners Darryl and Kathy Parker displayed an aerial photograph showing the Marina’s single point of access for emergency vehicles.
“In the event of a fire at Ossipee Lake Marina, I have serious concerns about how they’ll be able to maintain it,” Darryl Parker told the Board.
Parker cited the 2002 fire at Ward’s Boat Shop and recounted how much of his residential neighborhood in Danvers, Mass. was destroyed last month when an adjacent commercial business caught fire and exploded. Similar concerns about fire were expressed by abutting property owners Bruce and Kathy Guckert in a letter to area newspapers last month.
Freedom Selectman Donna Cupka, whose husband is the Marina’s sales and service manager, voiced her support of the expansion plan at the November 28 meeting, saying the business was simply responding to customer demand.
“The outdoor storage of boats should not be limited,” she told the ZBA, saying she was speaking as an individual rather than as a Selectman. “They should be able to store as many boats as they can fit within their setbacks. They’ve been storing an average of 100 boats outside.”
Cupka’s estimate is consistent with the boat counts that Broad Bay residents have provided annually to the Selectmen showing between 60 and 150 boats stored illegally on the property each winter since 1999, except for 2002 when the Marina’s appeal of the ZBA limits was before a State Superior Court judge.
In April this year, several former ZBA members joined lake residents and Ossipee Lake Alliance to confront the Selectmen on their lack of enforcement of the outdoor boat storage limit and other rulings by the Selectmen that the group said were undermining the intent of the ZBA and the court, including permitting the use of Alvino Road and residential Lot 42. The Selectmen subsequently rescinded all but one of their rulings.