June 21, 2018
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Businesses opening without permits a nagging problem in Lincoln

By Nick Sambides Jr., BDN Staff

LINCOLN, Maine — A new business might have opened a few months from now without a permit had not Code Enforcement Supervisor Ruth Birtz heard of a downtown building owner’s plans during a recent inspection.

It’s a common and nagging problem, she and Code Enforcement Officer Jerry Davis said: New businesses that open without the new business permits that municipal codes require. Sometimes it happens, Birtz said, because the planning board, which reviews permit applications, meets monthly.

“If you miss that meeting, you have to wait another month for the next meeting,” Birtz said Thursday. “A lot of businesses don’t like that.”

Birtz estimated that half the home-based businesses, which do not require planning board review but instead must be permitted by her office, don’t get permits until after they open — sometimes a long time after.

A chiropractor’s office that opened within the last few years had advertised a grand opening in a local newspaper and was taking appointments before its operator had a permit, Davis said. He and Birtz learned of it when they saw the ad.

When they find a business already opened, “we do what we can,” Davis said. They work with the business owners to get them permitted quickly. They doubt the planning board would institute fines in such cases, nor would they recommend it.

“I really don’t think that would be doing any service to anyone,” Birtz said.

She and Davis advertise the need for permits on the town website and in notices in the town office. They ask fledgling businesses to apply for permits before they open by calling 794-3372 or by visiting the town office on Main Street.

Among the new businesses opened or seeking permits in town:

• A Chinese restaurant, Golden Jade, opened last week at the former Movie Gallery spot at 79 West Broadway. The owners of the buffet-style restaurant said Thursday that they hope to add a sushi bar and more Japanese cuisine to their offerings next month.

• Olde Time Butcher Shop, on Kelly Avenue, was issued a permit at the board meeting on March 21, Davis said.

• A medical services office, whose proprietors have a business permit under review.

• A retail cell phone sales business, which is under review.

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