The October 18 meeting of the Mattapoisett Zoning Board of Appeals took a bit longer to get through, despite a short agenda portending a short meeting with only one case to be heard.
Coming before the ZBA on this night was well known local businessman Todd Rodrigues whose Yard Boss business has been situated on Route 6 since 2010 and, more recently, lots at the same location were developed sprouting the Windswept Village complex, a multi-use structure for retail shops, restaurants, and residences.
Rodrigues’ application for a special permit asked the board members to allow the display of new boats on an existing new building foundation for his tenant George Fearons’ yacht brokerage. Fearon, a Mattapoisett resident from the Bay Club community, currently rents space in Rodrigues’ Yard Boss property from which he conducts his selling activities for Oyster Harbor Marine.
The new building foundation was poured when Windswept Village Phase 1 was under construction, in anticipation of future build-out. The site is a raw, undeveloped parcel with frontage on Route 6.
Rodrigues explained that only new vessels would be on display, and none would contain hazardous fuels or oils. Propellers would not be attached, and no more then five 30-foot boats would be on the property at any given time.
Rodrigues went on to say that the area would be landscaped in keeping with the rest of the finished spaces, and no other related business activities other then selling boats would take place on site.
“We live in a boating community. … It’s a great chance to display Mattapoisett that way, a great opportunity for Mattapoisett,” said Rodrigues.
There was some confusion on the part of the ZBA when one member thought the applicant was seeking to build a structure to house the boats, questioning the appropriateness of placing boats out in the open where children might be drawn to explore and climb on them.
Currently the zoning bylaw only allows boats to be warehoused in the Industrial district, noted ZBA member Gene Deslander.
Rodrigues said it was tough for Fearon to sell boats without having some on location, and that Fearon’s brokerage business, being run out of the Yard Boss structure, was within his right.
After some discussion on the height and overall size of the boats in question, more general impressions were shared when ZBA member Mary Ann Brogan demurred that the area would look “ugly.”
Chairman Susan Akin told Rodrigues that, if and when he planned to house the boats on the site, he would have to return to the ZBA with a new permit request.
But Deslanders continued to express his concern about children, saying of Windswept Village, “When you came before the board, you said children may live in the building, [and] this may be an attractive hazard for children.”
However, ZBA member Kenneth Pacheco wondered, “What is the big danger?”
Fearon said, “We live in Mattapoisett where every other yard has a boat in it,” a comment that Pacheco agreed with.
Brogan asked if he would put up fencing. Rodrigues said no, but the area would be attractively landscaped.
“I don’t think I’m ready to give you carte blanche,” Deslanders said.
Deslanders asked why he didn’t put the brokerage business at the Industrial Park, and Rodrigues responded that they didn’t want to do that. The Route 6 location was preferred.
“Zoning isn’t to accommodate you; you have to accommodate zoning,” Brogan said.
Pacheco again asserted, “Boats are everywhere.”
ZBA member Colby Rottler supported the request, saying the Mattapoisett Boat Yard had boats out in the open, and added, “Yard Boss has been remarkable, always looks nice, it’s good for the community, new businesses.”
But Borgan questioned if Fearon was a registered business owner in the town. After establishing that Fearon was a tenant of Rodrigues and not a business owner in the community, Brogan said, “His business doesn’t pay taxes to Mattapoisett.”
When the vote was cast, the sought-after Special Permit was granted 3-2, with Brogan and Delanders dissenting.
The permit carries stipulations that any changes to the site, number of boats, or use of the property will require a new application.
The next meeting of the Mattapoisett Zoning Board of Appeals is scheduled for November 15 at 6:00 pm in the Town Hall conference room if there are hearings scheduled.
Mattapoisett Zoning Board of Appeals
By Marilou Newell