June 25, 2018
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Appeals board upholds Machias planners permit

By Sharon Kiley Mack, BDN Staff

MACHIAS, Maine — The Machias Board of Appeals met Monday night for the first time in 25 years and it took only minutes for the members to determine that they really didn’t need to meet at all.

In less than 30 minutes, the five board members agreed that the single permit that had been granted and was being appealed was valid, and they voted unanimously to uphold it.

Dr. James Sparaga had appealed a February planning board ruling that permitted a modular home office building on land abutting Sparaga’s dentistry office on U.S. Route 1.

Sparaga told the board of appeals on Monday that he was appealing the permit because it allowed for only one building — the business’s office. He maintained that two other model homes that will be placed on the property this summer are also buildings and should have been included in the permit. If they had been, he main-tained, the permit would never have been granted.

“Why are we even here?” asked Wes Graham, who owns the modular home business. “I received a permit for an office. I don’t need a permit for my inventory.”

The appeals board agreed with Graham and determined that the original determination by the planning board — that the model homes are considered inventory and that Graham did not need a permit for inventory — was correct.

The buildings, which Graham said should arrive in about six weeks, are considered temporary inventory and should be treated similar to cars in a car dealership lot, or items on a store’s shelves.

“I called the city of Ellsworth to see how they handled these businesses,” Chairman Dan Swain said. “They consider the model homes inventory.”

The appeals board unanimously voted to uphold the permit authorized by the planning board four months ago.

Clinton Phipps, chairman of the planning board, said that one of the problems in this process was Machias’ lack of zoning codes.

“We’re going to have to address this,” Phipps said. “It’s going to come up again. We have just two pages of planning codes to go by.”

After the denial of his appeal, Sparaga told the board, “Can you imagine what a Superior Court justice will do with this?” and called the ruling laughable. When asked whether his comment meant that he intended to sue either of the boards, Graham or the town, Sparaga said he had not made up his mind.

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