By THOMAS P. CALDWELL, LACONIA DAILY SUN
MEREDITH — Douglas and Leslyee Frederick, who own and operate the American Police Motorycyle Museum, are seeking an appeal of an administrative decision that found boat storage not to be an approved use on the property.
The town denied their original appeal as not having been filed in a timely manner, but they maintain that the town had not informed them of the decision in time and, once they learned of it, they did file within the 30-day period allowed for appeals.
Doug Frederick said he had received permission from the town four years ago to allow Meredith Marine to store boats on his property, and the company has been storing boats there since. That changed on Nov. 15, 2015, after he had informed Town Manager Phil Warren of “an incident on 11-16-15 that occurred on my property that was cause for serious concern and which I firmly believe was a clearly stated Meredith Zoning Violation.”
According to Frederick, the code enforcement officer arrived and told him “he was not sure if boat parking was allowed on my property.” Frederick said he sent two emails to find out “what his orders were as to boat parking on the property. At no time did [anyone] answer those emails and provide direction ... regarding boat parking.”
It was not until September 2016 that he heard from the town. Planning Board Chairman William Bayard then told him that boat parking was not allowed.
Frederick went to the next Planning Board meeting to address the issue, and the town planner said “water recreation/storage” as listed for the Meredith Central Business District applied only to water park items such as bumper boats and water slides.
In early 2017, Frederick received additional certified letters “in which the definition of ‘Water Recreation/Storage’ was changed from Water Park items to the storage of Lagoons, Ponds and Water itself in the Central Business District of Meredith.”
The town ordered the Fredericks to remove the boats stored on their property by May 1, and, through their attorney, William Woodbury, they asked for an extension to Aug. 1, which coincided with the term of the contract with Meredith Marine. They received no response from the town and Woodbury followed up on May 8. The town responded by email on May 18, saying a decision had been issued. Woodbury responded the next day, saying they had not received a copy of the decision.
An email trail shows that the town officials “Have no idea what happened to the letter.”
Doug Frederick said that, apart from that incident, the town had communicated through certified mail, and he had been diligent about responding within a day or two of receiving information from the town.
He learned of the adverse decision through his attorney in late May, and filed an appeal on June 19, which Woodbury maintains was within the 30-day period after they learned that a decision had been made. Woodbury noted that the 30-day period fell on June 17, a Saturday, and that state statutes agree that, when a deadline falls on a weekend or holiday, it is extended to the first business day after that, which puts June 19 within the filing deadline.
The town denied the request as arriving past the filing deadline, and subsequently denied the Fredericks’ request for a variance to allow boat storage on the property.
Their current appeal is based on “fundamental fairness” and their right to due process.
“Neither the applicants nor any member of the public had any way of knowing a decision ever existed until May 18,” Woodbury wrote.
Meredith Marine is allowed to continue storing boats on the property through the appeal process.
- Written by Tom Caldwell
- Category: Local News
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