Neighbors appeal Inn on Shipyard Park expansion

Feb 27, 2016

In January, the owners of the Inn on Shipyard Park received unanimous approval from the town to expand their porch by 3 feet. But now abutters George and Maureen Butler are fighting that decision, and their lawyer, Thomas Crotty, says it could take up to a year and a half to resolve the issue.

The Butlers, who live adjacent to the Inn, voiced opposition to the expansion when the proposal came before the Zoning Board in January. Because the Inn was constructed in 1799, long before any zoning bylaws were put in place, it is already a “nonconforming structure,” but Crotty, speaking on behalf of his clients, said extending the porch would violate current zoning regulations.

Plans for the porch put it and the steps leading up to it at 1 foot, 2 inches from the sidewalk and would allow six additional seats in the screened in area.

“You can see a lot of the properties are close to the sidewalk, but they’re not as close as this. I don’t think you have the authority to allow this,” Crotty told the Zoning Board members in January.

The appeal filed with the Plymouth Superior Court states that the special permit granted by the Zoning Board is “to intensify” the non-conformity of the structure. The document also states that Mattapoisett requires a 25-foot setback from the street and that the setback should be an average of those on either side of the property, which is 6 feet. According to the complaint, the Inn is only 5 feet from the street.

At the January meeting, Building Commissioner Andy Bobola disagreed with Crotty’s reading of the bylaw and said the proposed porch fits in with the special permit regulations.

Crotty filed an appeal with the Superior Court on Feb. 9.

“There’s already enough congestion down there now,” said Crotty by phone. “Other people in the neighborhood may not be concerned with the expansion of the structure, but it’s right next door to my clients.”

The Butlers have made numerous complaints about the Inn since Nils Johnson and Andrea Perry purchased it in 2012, particularly concerning noise. The Inn’s entertainment license allows for amplified music, television and dancing until 12:45 a.m. and up to six performers at a time.

Although several voiced concern over the potential for disruptive behavior and noise back in 2012, Johnson said no one in the neighborhood has had an issue with the Inn’s operations and many neighbors are customers.

“I literally have a good rapport with every one of my other neighbors. They’re the only ones who are the last hold out. They would like it to just not exist. And that’s just not going to happen,” he said.

The new porch provide more space for customers, and Johnson said the renovation will come with an update to the exterior of the building.

“The general update to the façade of the building will be beneficial to everyone down there,” he said.

The suit does not prevent Johnson and Perry from doing the renovations, but if the court approved the appeal, it would mean removing the new porch. Johnson said unfortunately that means waiting on the rebuild, which he hoped to have done in time for the summer crowd. In the meantime, he said they will look into other open air seating opportunities while they wait for the appeal proceedings.

“We offer the entire town and anyone who wants to come ocean front property, food and drinks. That’s a luxury to a lot of people and I think they deserve it,” said Johnson.

He expressed confidence in the town’s attorney and said he will have to wait for the outcome. There is no trial date set yet, though Crotty said it is classified as a fast tracked case.