2010-06-03 / Front Page

Zoning denies extra hours for The Shack

By Erin Tiernan

The Zoning Board of Review denied a special-use permit for The Shack – a sandwich and ice cream shop at Dutch Harbor Boat Yard – to expand its hours of service this summer after residents complained that longer hours would change the character of the neighborhood on the western end of Narragansett Avenue. The decision was made during the board’s May 25 meeting.

The seasonal small business opened Aug. 2, 2009, at 252 Narragansett Ave. to sell coffee, snacks and sandwiches from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily to locals and boaters making use of the marina. But those hours caused The Shack to lose out on a large customer base, said Peter Liberati, who co-owns the restaurant with his brother, Michael.

“We would like an 8 p.m. close time to better service our marina customers,” he said. “In the summer, the sun doesn’t set until after 8 p.m. There have been so many instances where we have had to turn customers away and it feels like it reflects negatively on us because they don’t understand the regulations.”

Zoning Board Chair Thomas Ginnerty expressed hesitation to grant Dutch Harbor Boat Yard’s request for changes to the ordi- nance after one year in operation.

“I’m a little bit skeptical of ever-enlarging modifications,” he said.

Neighbors speaking in opposition to the proposed extension of hours were concerned that later nights could mean more opportunities for noisy illegal drinking on the property.

“It’s like they’re in our backyard and there have been various times when [boaters] use [picnic tables] for a cocktail party,” said William Dunning of 11 Avenue B, who shares a property line with Dutch Harbor Boat Yard. “The concerns of neighbors, and more with the extension of hours, is that this is going to be an every night occurrence.”

Liberati and Dutch Harbor Boat Yard Owner Larry Eichler said they never allow alcohol on the property when the marina and restaurant are open.

Julia Held, of 14 Westwood Rd., said the neighborhood gets a lot busier during the summer, but she also worried that if The Shack stayed open later, customers could disrupt peaceful evenings.

“We all breathe a sigh of relief every night when 6 o’clock comes around. We get our quiet neighborhood back,” she said.

Liberati’s business venture clashed with residents’ ideas of what should be allowed in their neighborhood since its inception, but the Zoning Board permitted The Shack to open last summer with strict regulations regarding hours of operation, delivery times and even when the owners were allowed to be on the property.

According to the original ordinance, employees are allowed in the building from 7:30 a.m. until 6:30 p.m., leaving only 30-minute windows to open and close the restaurant. Deliveries were also required to take place during this timetable.

This original agreement was referred to as a compromise by both sides; however, during last Tuesday’s meeting, Liberati said the experience of actually being open changed his perspective. The set-up and clean-up times are too short, he said, and his bread is delivered between 6 a.m. and 7 a.m. – prior to when he is allowed inside.

“Based on our experience last year and the strings [the Zoning Board] put on us, we’re asking [the Zoning Board] to allow regulations that will make our business more feasible without all the hardship,” said Peter Liberati.

The board unanimously decided to extend set-up and clean-up times to one hour before opening and closing for the day, and removed restrictions on early-morning bread delivery. The board denied the extension of hours because it believed later nights would significantly alter the character of the neighborhood and force residents to police instances of illegal drinking.

In other business, the board unanimously approved the application of David and Kathleen Maurice, of 130 Frigate St., for a special-use permit for development within a high groundwater district and a variance for a two-story addition to be 24.7 feet from Frigate Street, rather than the required 40 feet. The original house was built within the required setbacks prior to the implementation of these zoning requirements.

The approved renovations will reduce the home’s footprint by 127 square feet and the amount of impervious surfaces on the property by 1220.4 square feet. The Maurice family has also decided to install a new septic system, which Department of Environmental Management engineer Daniel Cotta testified was the best system available.

A variance was denied to Andrew Roos, of 18 Hawthorne Ave., to build a garage five feet from the property line (10 feet is required) because commissioners said a certain degree of hardship on the part of the property owner must be proven in order to make any exceptions.

The Zoning Board of Review will next meet on Tuesday, June 22, at 7 p.m.

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