Machias planners OK model modular home

Posted Feb. 03, 2010, at 10:36 p.m.

MACHIAS, Maine — The Machias planning board approved an application Wednesday night by Wesley Graham of Harbor Homes of Maine to locate a model modular home on Route 1.

Graham plans to display for sale up to two more modular homes on the site, but needed planning board approval for only the one home that he expects to hook up to water and a holding tank so that he can use it as an office.

The application and approval met with resistance by abutting businessman, Dr. James Sparaga, who claimed that putting model homes on Route 1 will block the public’s view of the Machias River and devalue area property.

Sparaga has a dental practice next to Graham’s land and said using the next door property for modular homes would be “a disservice to the town of Machias.”

“If you were worried about the view,” planner Edward Pellon asked Sparaga, “why did you build there?”

Pellon abstained from the final vote because he sold the property to Graham, but he participated in the discussion because he also owns another abutting property.

Graham explained that he will use one modular home as an office, with water and a holding tank, and that it is considered a temporary structure. The home and any others — up to three in all — he will place on the lot are inventory, Graham said, much like cars on a car dealer’s lot.

None will have foundations or even be placed on a concrete pad. “These will never be converted to living residences,” he said. “They will all eventually be sold.”

The only reason he had to come before the planners, he said, was because he was providing running water and the holding tank for the office.

Planning board Chairman Clint Phipps said this identical issue came before the board three years ago and model modular homes were determined at that time to be temporary structures. The planning board, he said, had no jurisdiction over inventory.

Sparaga countered that the board had an obligation to keep aesthetics in mind.

“We pay $9,000 a year in taxes on our building,” Sparaga said. “This project would negatively affect our investment.” He offered to purchase the property from Graham and promised to leave it as open land.

Graham said the buildings would be landscaped and attractive. “I’m not devaluing anything. I’m doing everything within the law.” He said none of the other businesses in the area objected to his plans. “I’m trying to do the right thing here,” he said. “As far as my business goes, this is a commercial strip. I’m providing good jobs and encouraging growth.”

The board approved the request 4-0 with Pellon abstaining.

Sparaga asked what options were available for him to appeal the board’s decision and was told by Phipps that he could appeal to the town’s zoning board of appeals.

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