An Oak Bluffs business owner’s months-long battle with the town to generate income on his property may be nearing resolution.
At meetings spanning the spring and summer, Bill Coggins asked selectmen to support various plans for a Circuit avenue lot he purchased in April. The board discouraged him from pursuing options that included food trucks and retail cars, saying they would compete with brick and mortar businesses and violate a town bylaw that prohibits the exhibition of wares on the street.
On Tuesday Mr. Coggins presented a new proposal to the selectmen, which this time was met with encouragement.
Mr. Coggins said he plans to construct a two-story building on the lot that will house a retail space on the first floor and an apartment on the second.
The selectmen said they would support the construction of a building over the narrow lot, which has sat vacant for decades, especially if it has a housing unit upstairs.
The proposed building would measure 15 feet wide, and would attach to the Soft As A Grape building to the left, pending agreement from the owner. The lot has historically served as an access point to the public restrooms on Kennebec avenue. Mr. Coggins’s plans would not allow for a walkable alleyway on either side of the building.
While the board had no action to take on the matter, they watched the builder’s three-dimensional modeling presentation with interest, and ultimately gave their blessing.
“I think it’s exactly what we’ve been talking about for Circuit avenue at the Oak Bluffs Association,” said selectman Mike Santoro, the most vocal opponent of Mr. Coggins’s previous proposals. “Especially facades, they’re really nice . . . Go for it. Good luck, Bill.”
In other business, highway superintendent Richard Combra told the selectmen that work at the roundabout will wrap up by the end of the week. The final coat of asphalt was laid down on Tuesday, he said. Asphalt specialists are finishing painting lines and landscape is being completed.
Delays at the traffic circle have been reminiscent of pre-roundabout days, selectman Gregory Coogan observed. “And yet people were really cranky about sitting in line . . . I thought, this was normal,” he said.
The selectmen also voted to revive the senior citizen tax work-off program, first adopted at town meeting in April of 2001. The program offers seniors an opportunity to earn up to $1,000 per fiscal year in property tax abatements by filling administrative duties for the town. To qualify, candidates must be at least 60 years of age and be the assessed owner of the property. Seniors will be tapped for duties in town hall, library and council on aging, and as administrative aides to town committees.
A decision to issue a special business permit to Mark Crossland, owner of Crossland Landscape, was postponed. The town building department has received complaints that Mr. Crossland’s business does not comply with the home-based business permit issued by the town that requires business equipment to be stored indoors.
Town building inspector James Dunn recommended the board approve the application but require Mr. Crossland to abide by the restrictions of the special permit.
Mr. Crossland has operated the landscaping business on his property for 31 years. He had not received a complaint until his elderly neighbor’s son began looking to sell his adjacent property, he said.
Mr. Crossland stores his fertilizer in a hut, but parks his trucks outdoors, which Mr. Dunn said is a violation. Mr. Crossland said he is unable to move them indoors.
Selectmen asked for more time to familiarize themselves with the case, and to address a growing trend of home-based business permitting problems. The board said it will revisit the issue on at a Nov. 19 meeting.
“Because it happens a lot in town, I don’t think we can ignore it,” selectman Gail Barmakian said. “This issue keeps coming up, and it’s usually with landscaping. . . We do need to address it somehow.”
The selectmen will hold a special meeting next Tuesday at 5 p.m. to review the fall town meeting warrant. The town meeting is scheduled for Nov. 12 at 7 p.m. at the Oak Bluffs School.