2017-08-25 / Front Page

Parking fight at a standstill

By Duke Harrington Staff Writer

KENNEBUNK — With a second season come and now nearly gone since Kennebunk’s zoning board of appeals upheld a limit on business parking on Doane’s Wharf, a dead-end dirt road located at the edge of the Lower Village commercial district, residents have taken the town to task for a failure to enforce the ruling.

On July 28, 2015, Kennebunk’s code enforcement officer issued a notice of violation to BR2 LLC, reportedly a holding company run by Fred Forsley, owner of the Shipyard Shops row of stores that culminates in Federal Jack’s restaurant. BR2 had purchased the property at 2 and 4 Doane’s Wharf – known locally as Reid’s Boat Yard – the previous month.

The Reid site includes a private home and marina on the Kennebunk River, and soon after the sale local residents began to complain that a gate between Federal Jack’s and the marina was opened, with restaurant workers using the marina property as catered parking.

The code enforcement notice advised Forsley that the marina site was limited to 22 parking space on an expanse of lawn beside the marina, with two reserved for the adjacent home and 16 for boat slip owners, while none were to be used by the restaurant.

Forsley appealed and on Nov. 30, 2015, the Zoning Board of Appeals upheld the town position, resulting in a further appeal to superior court.

Fast forward to the most recent selectmen’s meeting, Aug. 8, and commentary by Kennebunk attorney Bruce Read, who noted he’d made a similar appearance nine months earlier on behalf of the abutting residents.

“We have intervened successfully in the lawsuit against Federal Jack’s and the Forsleys, but enough is enough here,” Read said. “The ZBA decision limiting them to 22 parking spaces was in 2015. We had a long summer in 2016 and guess what, we’re having another long summer in 2017. You’re the ultimate enforcing authority here and we are here to say, the ruling has not been overturned. The law of the land is the ZBA ruling of November 2015.”

Following Read, a steady stream of Lower Village residents took to the podium.

Chase Hill Road resident Leila Jahncke said she and others have counted more than 22 cars at the marina site on many occasions, and alleged that the spots are still being used for valet parking at the restaurant, as well as by employees of Federal Jack’s and the Shipyard Shops.

“These are commercial enterprises and that use is illegal in the coastal residential zone, other than for the marina,” she said. “We think we’ve given the town enough of a chance and we want to know when there is going to be enforcement.”

“As a long-term resident I’ve always had the confidence that the rules would be upheld, but I feel they have not been at this point. I’m a bit disgusted at the town,” abutter Earl Freeman said.

“Code enforcement delayed is code enforcement denied,” Robert Lyons said. “It’s effectively the same as having no code enforcement at all. Further delay erodes our confidence in our town government.”

Town Manager Michael Pardue confirmed that an enforcement letter had been issued to Forsley and his wife Judy, but said little could be said publically because of the lawsuit.

However, at the Aug. 8 meeting, Pardue said the town’s code enforcement office has “very limited resources,” even with the help of police officers, to verify where cars parked at the marina site are coming from.

The reply of Doane’s Wharf Road resident Dick Lamberts to that was it should be easy enough to issue vehicle window stickers to those who are actually authorized to park at the site.

That, he said, would enable the town to conduct a quick sticker check, rather than camping out to see where cars come from, and where they go.

“As things are, somebody is going to get hit,” he said.

Beverly Lindgren expressed concern, given the narrowness of Doane’s Wharf, that emergency vehicles might not be being able to make it by some homes in the area, given the hodgepodge manner in which cars are allegedly often parked there.

“It’d be totally and completely impossible for them. There’s no way. There’s not enough room, and that’s a safety issue,” she said.

After the others finished, Read returned to the podium to suggest the town issue a fine to Forsley. Reading from the Aug. 4 code enforcement letter to the Forsley’s, Read noted of 11 inspections by town officials, the marina site had more than 22 cars on four occasions — including one time when more than 30 cars were counted.

“We know from public records what kind of cash comes through Federal Jack’s,” he said, intimating that fine should be on the high side. “You’ve got to put some financial incentive to keep this from happening. Otherwise, this is never going to stop. Put some teeth in it. There has to be some money on the table.”

Pardue said that would be “part of the conversation” he planned to have with Dale on Aug. 9, to seek his “guidance for our next steps,” following issuance of the Aug. 4 letter.

However, in an Aug. 15 email, Pardue said that legal guidance was still forthcoming.

“This matter remains in litigation,” he wrote. “As I referenced at the board of selectmen meeting, the town, at the direction of town attorney Bill Dale, has been assessing the number of cars that are parked in the referenced lot on any given day. These checks have been performed on a periodic basis, as staff resources permit.

Dale has been provided the vehicle counts and he has communicated to the owners of the parking lot the days in which the vehicle counts exceeded the amount permitted by a zoning board of appeals decision related to this matter.

“The Town awaits further guidance from Attorney Dale as to ‘next steps’ and the enforcing of the ZBA decision,” Pardue wrote.

Staff Writer Duke Harrington can be reached at news@kennebunkpost.com.

Return to top