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Sunset Beach Board of Adjustment nixes store trailer

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By Staff Brunswick Beacon

SUNSET BEACH—Two storeowners’ quest to keep their storage trailer was denied last week by the town board of adjustment.

Marc Kaplan and Cliff Errickson, owner of The Island Market, 430 Sunset Blvd. S., sought permission to keep the wheeled semi-trailer at the rear of the store property after town chief building inspector Jeff Curtis said it was a violation.

The five-member board unanimously voted at the July 3 continuance hearing to uphold Curtis’ decision relayed to the business partners in January.

During the session lasting just over an hour, board members discussed adding stipulations about clarifying town ordinances and how long the trailer can remain on the site in the island’s beach business (BB-1) district. Those motions died for lack of a second.

“We’re talking about reasonable people here,” board member Bill McDonald said. “Let the applicant and building inspector work out what can reasonably be done in a reasonable time frame.”

“That way, they can address all these issues,” said fellow board member Leon August.

“In business, time is money, and we know that,” McDonald added. “We’re sensitive to surroundings also.”

“I think we just have to stick to the subject,” board Chairman Al Seibert said. “I don’t think we can do anything else.”

Earlier, in response to questions about the property being under floodplain rules as well, Curtis said three months is a typical amount of time for a situation to be corrected.

“It’s more appropriate for you to set the time,” he told board members.

Following the hearing, Errickson said he believed the whole issue was supposed to be about whether the trailer, which has been on the site for a year and a half, was a permitted use.

The board’s decision, he said, was totally irrelevant.

“It came down to intent, which was never part of the discussion or the code violation,” he said.

Board member Bob Perry mulled the definition of an accessory structure, which Curtis said made the trailer a violation. Kaplan argued at an initial hearing June 26 the trailer is not an accessory structure.

A trailer, on the other hand, is defined as a temporary dwelling, it was noted last week.

“I have a problem with the conflict in both [definitions], and I think we need to discuss it,” Perry said.

August said under the storekeepers’ intention, “it would fit as an accessory structure.”

At one time, he pointed out, the trailer had electricity, steps and ventilation.

Perry noted current town administrator Gary Parker said the business partnership, Errikap, is trying to do something that doesn’t fit as an accessory use.

McDonald said he found it unusual former town administrator Linda Fluegel made a decision to allow the trailer in January 2007 without conferring with town staff, including the town attorney.

“She did approve it with wheels,” board member Gene Allen said. “We need to be extremely careful about this sort of thing, because we could have this anywhere in Sunset Beach.”

“This whole thing started because this thing is an eyesore and damaging to property values,” Perry said. “The applicant gave us pictures that clearly show it’s an eyesore.”

“I like to go to a more solid principle of zoning,” Seibert said. “If it ain’t [allowed], it ain’t.”

He added, “If an officer of this town makes an error, it doesn’t mean it can’t be corrected.”

LAURA LEWIS is a staff writer at the Beacon. Reach her at 754-6890 or at llewis@brunswickbeacon.com