Resident points out infractions to planning board

By Dawn De Busk

Staff Writer

NAPLES — A Naples resident, who was initially denied picnic tables for her proposed takeout food business, looked for examples of temporary structures in the Shoreland Zone to prove her request could be allowable.

She did not have to look far.

“Most towns will allow what other businesses are doing,” Marie Kushner said.

Kushner appeared for the second time before the Naples Planning Board on Jan. 10. She wants to operate a business out of her house, which is on waterfront property and is located on the Causeway near Long Lake Marina. The business would be food-service related, offering prepackaged to-go food and providing some on-site catered events.

Kushner said that many businesses are engaging in the same restrictions being put on her.

The planning board, during a Dec. 20 meeting, did not approve outdoor seating because of a lack of parking. Also, for each type of business, the Shoreland Zone area must be doubled.

“I took a look at Freedom Café,” she said.

“There are plenty of violations,” she said, having provided the board and people at the public hearing with photos.

“You cannot have permanent structures within 100 feet of the shoreline,” Kushner said, showing canopies and a stage for weekly reggae music on the beach.

“This is a lot of gray area here,” she said, in reference to the Shoreland Zoning Ordinance being black and white, right or wrong.

Naples Code Enforcement Officer Renee Carter was the first to respond to the photos of summer activities at Freedom Café.

“Marie, I did not realize. Now, what you’ve done is drawn attention to them,” Carter said.

“They have violations. They are not supposed to have those canopies there,” she said.

Kushner said, “Let’s keep going. Take a look at Freedom — they have three businesses going on. They have the restaurant, a mercantile shop and the sailing business.”

“If you get my drift, the big boys have a lot of shades of gray,” she said.

“For me, it is black and white. And, I am not going to give up easily,” Kushner said.

Acting Chairman John Thompson spoke.

“Everything you said is probably true. But, it is being done wrong and it shouldn’t be done,” Thompson said.

Kushner resumed speaking.

“According to Mike Morse, it shouldn’t be black and white,” she said.

Morse works in the bureau of Shoreland Zoning for the Maine Department of Environmental Protection (DEP); and Kushner has had several phone conversations with him regarding her proposed business on Long Lake.

“Now, that you have brought it to light. She (CEO Carter) is going to have to go down and have it stopped,” Thompson said.

Carter said, “Unless we change the ordinance.”

Planning board member Jimmy Allen referred to the photos when he spoke.

“The canopy is a set up. Some of these pictures are incriminating,” Allen said. “What you are doing is opening a can of worms,” he said. “What you should do is focus on the application.”

A little bit later during Tuesday night’s public hearing, resident Jim Grattelo stepped to the microphone.

“Mr. Chairman, if I can digress. Let’s take a step back,” Grattelo said. “She is not the victim. The fact is she is pointing out wrongdoings. It is wrong to make her the victim — I take offense to that.”

The planning board tabled the site plan until Feb. 7, with the intention of working with Kushner on making her home business a reality.

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