Freedom — January 25, 2007 — The Freedom Zoning Board of Adjustment unanimously approved the request for a special exception to Kevin Price and the Ossipee Lake Marina on Tuesday night allowing the business to store nearly four times as many boats outside. Abutters said they plant to contest the decision.
The board found no reason on a list of 13 items to not grant the special exception, but it created a list of requirements that must be met as part of the exception. Only one item, that of the application having an adverse effect on the character of the area, had any opposition (with a 3 to 1 vote).
Abutters Bruce and Kathy Guckert, represented by Faye Melendy, said they will file a motion to rehear the case.
The zoning board approved a plan that would allow Price to store 168 boats inside and 80 to 90 boats outside in a designated boat storage area with certain spacing requirements. Before the decision was made, he was allowed 225 inside with 23 outside. Zoning board member Neal Boyle added a “no boat” line on the map to which Price agreed.
One major issue brought up by two parties Tuesday night was fire safety. Abutters Kathy Guckert and Darrell Parker said they were concerned that the buildings at the marina are not in compliance with the town’s or state’s fire codes.
Parker said he does not think there is a sprinkler system on site, and a recent discussion with someone from the state fire marshal’s office said that any building must have a sprinkler system or a heat or smoke detection system. When asked whether the fire marshal said grandfathered buildings are considered differently, Parker said he did not go into that level of detail with the fire marshal’s office. Parker also said he thought there are neither portable fire extinguishers on site nor hydrants. Ultimately, he said he did not know why the fire chief was not in attendance at the meeting, given that “these meetings keep going on because he’s not here” and further said that he is being negligent in his job for not paying attention to fire codes.
When Boyle asked about the hydrants, as they were mentioned at earlier hearings, Price said, Doe “didn’t realize there’s a stream that’s open year round” when he came down the first time.”
Guckert cited similar reasons, adding that there was nothing written down by the fire chief that those buildings met fire code.
The board received a letter from Fire Chief Gene Doe regarding an inspection of the property he made. In it, he listed 10 conditions that the marina would need to adhere to if they were to be considered for the special exception.
In it, he listed space between boats and rows of boats, as well as space between stored boats and buildings, and keeping access ways open for emergency vehicles. He also said that access roads must meet National Fire Protection codes. Boats must be stored on the ground level only, batteries must be disconnected, and fuel tanks kept at a certain capacity.
Price said the conversation with Doe centered around how the boats were stored currently and how they would be stored in the future, which is how they came to the figures requested. Doe also told Price the current road widths are good enough for truck passage at this point. After the hearing concluded, Price could not say how wide either Marina Road or Alvino Road was except to say they were wide enough to get a big fire truck down to the marina.
After discussion, the board agreed that the application would not adversely affect access or maneuvering room or create fire protection issues with the additional boats on site.
Price also addressed concerns that the marina might not be in compliance with environmentally sound business practices. He said, based on a visit by the Department of Environmental Services looking for underground oil drums and buried parts, no violations were listed at that time.
Others, he said, are concerned that he will be storing unlimited amounts of boats on his property. Price said, “I don’t want that. I want to store boats in designated areas, like Ned [Hatfield, the zoning officer] suggested.”
The board agreed to list Doe’s 10 suggestions as conditions for the special exception, along with annual inspections and reports to the selectmen, by the fire chief, and keeping the access roads clear at all times during the year.
Price will also have to add the “no boat” line onto the final plan and go in front of the planning board for a site plan review to deal with the fence agreed upon at earlier public hearings.
The board also approved the dates for winter storage on the plans as Dec. 21 to March 21, as suggested by Price. At certain times, the marina is very busy in shrink-wrapping boats for storage and getting people’s boats ready for pick-up. During that time, Price said it would not make sense to store boats in the way Doe suggested.
Tom Kondrat spoke in favor of the application. He said he wondered how many times the fire department has gone out to the marina for a boat fire and how many times it goes out for a house fire.
“Should we get rid of all the houses, all the trees” just because they might burn? He encouraged the towns people to treat every business equally. If they were going to be concerned about the safety of boat storage there, they should be concerned with boat storage at all the local camps, where many boats are stored, as well. The fire at Ward’s Boat Shop was started at a nearby canvas shop, not the boat shop. “If we’re telling him how he can run his business…we should share in the profit loss and write him a check for his losses,” he said.