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Condo owners win latest pub ruling

The Harbour Public House (foreground) has been at odds with the neighboring Harbourside Condominiums (background) over the pub’s planned expansion. An appelate court last week upheld an earlier decision that said the plan deviates from a development agreement between the two properties. -
The Harbour Public House (foreground) has been at odds with the neighboring Harbourside Condominiums (background) over the pub’s planned expansion. An appelate court last week upheld an earlier decision that said the plan deviates from a development agreement between the two properties.
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Like many neighborhood disputes, it began with a plan, and ended in disappointment for one side.

Owners of the Harbour Public House, on Parfitt Way, wanted to expand. Folks next door at the Harbourside Condominiums objected, saying a bigger pub would obstruct views and exacerbate existing noise and parking problems.?

More importantly, they said, the plan violates a development agreement established long ago between the two sides.

A trial court in 2006 agreed with condo owners, and the state Court of Appeals last week affirmed that decision, rejecting the pub’s appeal and likely blocking for good its plans for expansion.

Judge Elaine Houghton said the plan “would not fit the character” of the development intended in the agreement.

“The expansion was a material deviation from the size, shape and location of the proposed structure,” Houghton wrote in her opinion. “Because substantial evidence supports the trial court’s findings, it did not abuse its discretion in deciding to enter a permanent injunction.”

Pub owners have 30 days to appeal to the state Supreme Court, but said they likely won’t pursue the case further. Instead, they may move ahead with the approved structure – a residence and yacht sales office.

“This wasn’t just a loss for us,” said pub owner Jeff Waite. “The community lost. All we’re wanting to do is provide the downtown community with a place to spend some time on the waterfront and make our business more viable. That’s what Winslow Tomorrow was supposed to be all about.”

Waite estimated the expansion – which would housed all-day family dining, and leave the existing structure to serve adults – could generate as much as 70 percent more business.

The pub and the city never reached an agreement on how to accommodate the need for additional parking, Waite said.

Residents of the neighboring Harbourside said the agreement, forged in 1989, allowed for a mixed-use structure, but not a new restaurant wing to be built next to the existing building.

Many residents said their decision to buy a unit there was based in part on the promise that, per the agreement, the neighborhood would retain its quiet character.

Condo owners have long complained of noise and parking problems – the pub and condo share a parking lot – associated with pub patrons, delivery trucks and the pub’s kitchen.

They say more pub business would mean more disturbance.

They sued in 2005 to stop the planned expansion, saying it “impermissibly enlarged the building footprint, changed the view, and deviated from how the development was marketed to prospective buyers.”

Waite said the proposed expansion would actually be a few feet shorter than?the structure envisioned in the agreement, and that reconfiguring the buildings would move the noisy kitchen exhaust system further from the condos. He also took issue with parking complaints.?

“In our mind, the parking problem is something where you’ve got to ask how many restaurants have as much as us?” he said.

The pub was opened in 1991 by Roger and Judith Evans, whose daughter, Jocelyn, is married to Waite.

Also owners of the marina and land west of the pub at the time, the family entered into an agreement with developers of the Harbourside, before handing off the pub to the Waites.

When obtaining permits to open the pub, Roger Evans represented to the hearing examiner that he envisioned an English-style pub with no smoking, loud music, or pool tables.

He testified that “there would be music of a character and volume to encourage conversation, as well as reading, chess games and other quiet activities.”

David MacKenzie, who has lived at the Harbourside since it was built nine years ago, said that description isn’t consistent with what actually goes on at the pub.

“It’s been an ongoing dispute for quite a long time,” he said. “Noise has been an issue. Obviously we’re satisfied with the decision.”

He said he hopes his neighbors won’t push the issue further.?

“I don’t see any reason why they should,” he said. “It would be a waste of money.”

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