Appeals Board to reconsider dock variance Friday

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By Erin Place

HARRISON—The owner of a marina in Harrison might be able to double the length of his docks on Long Lake if the planning and appeals boards give him the green light.

Selectmen held a special meeting on Friday afternoon to discuss Jerry Knapp’s request to lengthen his docks at Gateway Marina at 15 Main St. According to Harrison Planning Board Chairman Barry Smith, Knapp came before the board on Sept. 3, asking for his part of his dock system to be permanently attached to the shore, which was granted, and to double the length of his docks from 48 to 96 feet. The latter request wasn’t granted.

“It wasn’t really a denial, it’s just the Planning Board has no authority to grant a change to a dimension in our ordinance,” Smith said by phone on Monday. “The Appeals Board is the only one that can grant a variance.”

Knapp then appeared before the Appeals Board on Sept. 24 and was granted the variance to increase his dock length. But now the Appeals Board will reexamine its decision at a meeting on Friday, Oct. 10, at the request of the majority of the selectmen.

According to the draft minutes from Friday’s special selectmen’s meeting, Selectman Matt Frank was worried about the variance because the docks would encroach further into the lake, making it more dangerous for boaters. Selectman Richard St. John said Knapp’s request doesn’t meet the requirements for additional parking needed for the proposed slips. Chairman Bill Winslow was concerned with the process, wondering if the ordinances were followed. Selectman Richard Sykes requested that information be entered in the record, including the fact that a 96 foot dock is already in existence in town and that another marina has received a variance from the one parking space per slip requirement.

According to the draft minutes, Town Manager George “Bud” Finch said that since the issue will eventually return to the Planning Board, the selectmen should ask it to take into consideration the limited parking in the area and be aware of the precedence it would set by waving parking requirements. There are citizens who expressed their concerns about the variance, he said by phone on Monday.

A motion requesting that the Appeals Board reconsider its decision regarding dock length for Gateway Marina passed, with St. John, Frank, Winslow and Vice Chair Kathy LaPlant voting yes and Sykes casting the only dissenting vote. The Appeals Board will meet this Friday, Oct. 10, at 7 p.m. at the Harrison Town Office on 20 Front St. to revisit the matter.

Knapp couldn’t be reached as of press time for comment.

Appeals Board Chairman Robert McBride declined to comment on the case, saying it was an active case and he didn’t feel it was appropriate to comment on it at this time.

eplace@advertiserdemocrat.com