2006-07-07 / News

Zoning board: home boat building is an island tradition

By Michaela Kennedy

At the June 27 meeting, the Zoning Board of Review voted 41, to allow Philip Steggal permission to erect a temporary structure to shelter a 39-foot trimaran racing boat he plans to construct on his property at 43 Plymouth Rd.

Steggal explained his boatbuilding plan to the board, adding that he planned to launch the sailboat upon its completion. He also explained a process of applying epoxy during the construction. "It's done under a vacuum bag so there would be no exposure to the smell of styrene," he said.

Board member Richard Boren asked if Steggal would agree to a "sunset" provision. After a set time period, the applicant must pull down the structure "whether or not you've finished with the boat, unless you come back to the board and ask for an extension and explain why you need the extra time," Boren said.

Zoning Board Chairman Thomas Ginnerty noted that the project seemed to be an industrial use on a residential property. "On the one hand, it provides an economic convenience to you. It will impact your neighbors at large," he said.

He complained that the site had "a cramped, crowded look." He pointed out the toys and swings he saw at the next-door neighbor's property.

Steggal said he visited the neighbors to find out how they felt about the boat construction.

"They understand it's for personal use. This is not a commercial venture. I've built boats in the past, worked on other people's boats. No one spoke anything but encouragement for the project," he noted.

Ginnerty repeated that he did not think it was an appropriate site for the construction. "If the neighbors had come forward with you, I might view it differently," he said, adding, "I can speak as a resident, and I know I wouldn't want it going up next to me."

Steggal noted he had a strict budget for the project, and if he had to pay storage fees on a different site, the project probably would not happen. "I travel a lot. I want to be able to work on the boat, and I also wanted to make sure I had time and money to do this," Steggal said.

Boren pointed out no one was at the meeting to object. He reminded the board of another applicant on Intrepid Lane. "We allowed someone to build a larger than regular size (structure) for the purpose of building a boat," he said.

Steggal noted that his neighbors offered to come to the meeting in his support, but he told them he did not feel it was necessary. He also noted that he would be contracting the work to a boat builder in Maine. "Some of the work will be done on site and some will be done in Maine," he added.

No one in the audiance spoke in support or denial of the application.

Boren said if there were objectors present, he would have a different opinion. "Boating has been active and customary here for years and years and years," he said in support of the application.

Wineberg moved to approve Steggal's application, with some restrictions.

Reading the motion, he said the project "may not release noticeable vapors, shall face westward, and shall expire after 21 months" unless the owner appeared before the board again with an explanation of why he might need an extension of time. Wineberg explained that the house was on the south side of the property. "Exhaust fans, if they

are on the north side they'll face the house, and if they're on the west side they'll face the Dumpster," he said. The motion included a 21-month restriction to the temporary structure, an 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. limit on working hours, and off-site parking for the boat builders.

In findings of fact, Wineberg noted that the property was in a residential R8 zone, He also noted that the applicant independently notified neighbors, who were supportive. "Jamestown has a long history of restoring boats," Wineberg said in support of the application.

Ginnerty repeated his list of reasons why he opposed the project.

Wineberg asked Ginnerty whether the fact that a man could do the same thing with a smaller boat as a matter of right was enough to change his mind. Ginnerty stood firm in his opinion, and later voted against Steggal's request.

Board member Joseph Logan agreed with Wineburg's point, adding, "In this case, he has to remove it, whereas others are there indefinitely."

Board member Dean Wagner found no fault with the short-term project. "The fact that there are no objectors and it's a temporary structure" were in its favor, he added.

Commissioner Raymond Iannetta was absent, keeping a consistent record of no-shows for the year.

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