A history of failed zoning enforcement


To the Editor:

The cause and effect of changing Dukes County Avenue to one-way traffic, when town boards selectively ignore zoning regulations, is that the residents of the neighborhoods suffer the consequences.

Here is the history of how this problem was created. This is all public record information.

Dave Richardson bought the lot where Smoke ‘n Bones is today on 12-3-91 for $89,700.

Dave Richardson bought 119 Duke’s County Avenue, Tony’s Market, on 3-12-92 for $165,000.

Dave bought 122 Dukes County Avenue, the white house on the corner of Dukes County Avenue and Oakland Avenue, across the street from Smoke ‘n Bones, on 12-31-93 for $80,000.

The restaurant that is now Smoke ‘n Bones was built around 1994-1995.

The permit to build a 64-seat restaurant on a 40’x80’ lot was contingent upon the applicant providing the required on-site parking for the restaurant on the property across the street at 122 Dukes County Avenue.

The restaurant was sold on 6-4-97 for $380,000, without the property at 122 Dukes County Avenue that was its parking.

The house was rented for a while and then sold on 9-13-2000 for $229,000.

At some point in this process the restaurant property, Smoke ‘n Bones, secured a 99-year lease for eight parking spaces of the claimed 13 parking spaces in the Tony’s Market parking lot. I say claimed because the parking lot is technically too narrow for two rows of perpendicular parking, so apparently there was no drawn and dimensioned parking lot plan required when the town planning board granted this permission.

The current zoning regulations, requiring adequate on-site parking, have been in effect since 1988 and passed with 106 votes in favor and 1 vote against. One has to wonder, why has Tony’s Market been exempt from zoning regulations that everyone else has to abide by.

Why should all the residents of the neighborhoods in a one-mile circle around Tony’s Market, including property that I own, suffer radically increased vehicle and truck traffic, decreased safety for their children, reduced property values, and diminished emergency response time inevitable from changing many roads to one-way traffic for the benefit of one business when the problem was created by the failure of the town’s planning board and building inspector to enforce zoning regulations properly voted for by the townspeople and approved by the state attorney general in 1988?

Based on the zoning regulations voted for in 1988, and current today, Tony’s Market should have been required to have a minimum of 26 parking spaces when the initial major expansion took place with more parking being required before the business was expanded further with the addition of the takeout restaurant.

The violations of zoning that need to be answered are as follows:

Why was Tony’s allowed to expand to a 4,664 sq. ft. store with only seven parking spaces?

When did the town give Tony’s permission to add the deli to his store?

Did the town give Tony’s permission, a permit, to have a take-out restaurant?

Why did the town allow this change of use without providing the required on-site parking?

Was Tony’s allowed to develop a take-out restaurant under the guise of being a deli in a store? Is the deli a front to have a fast food take-out restaurant?

Why was Tony’s allowed to expand into a take-out restaurant in addition to a convenience store with only seven parking spaces? This is not even enough parking for the employees.

Why was Tony’s allowed to sell their parking around the white house at 122 Dukes County Avenue? Remote parking arrangements are required to be deeded so they are permanent.

Why has Tony’s Market routinely been allowed to violate Oak Bluffs zoning bylaws?

What will happen if, in the future, Smoke ‘n Bones becomes a year-round three-meal-a-day restaurant like Linda Jean’s and needs their parking in Tony’s parking lot all day and year-round?

What will happen when the other commercial properties around Tony’s are developed and they also use the street parking?

Answer: The traffic chaos caused by Tony’s resumes.

Dukes County Avenue is only six-tenths of a mile long and is the only direct road connecting the town center to Wing Road, its emergency facility and all points beyond.

Why should the entire town suffer the diminished emergency response time that will result from changing Dukes County Avenue and possibly many other streets to one-way?

The folks at Tony’s and some people in the Arts District seem to think that parking regulations, the ones they have been quite successfully attempting to bypass for years, are some extraneous abstract concept. Parking regulations are the single most important zoning regulation for limiting the type and density of commercial development.

The voters decided they did not want another Circuit Avenue on Dukes County Avenue back in 1988, when they voted for these zoning regulations. The parking regulations are reasonable and conservative, and if they had been followed, we would not have this threat to the surrounding neighborhoods.

The people voted for these zoning regulations specifically so the neighbors and neighborhoods around this commercial area would not be overrun by any single business or group of businesses. Avoiding the abuse of these neighborhoods was the point of the 1988 addition of the parking regulations to Oak Bluffs zoning and is written law.

The people affected by changing Dukes County Avenue, and possibly many other roads, to one-way traffic for the purpose of creating parking for Tony’s Market on Dukes County Avenue believe that this change is a direct violation of the parking regulations voted by a majority of 106-1, as a change to Oak Bluffs zoning in 1988.

This change is beyond the discretion of the selectmen and must, by law, be voted on by a two-thirds majority vote as a zoning change.

Make your voice heard and come to the selectmen’s meeting on November 15, when this issue is to be discussed.

Donald Muckerheide

Oak Bluffs