Tisbury takes local business owner to court over zoning violation

The town zoning officer cited Mr. Barnes for his use of High Point Lane to park trucks. — Photo by Ralph Stewart

The town of Tisbury went to court Friday to force Clarence “Trip” Barnes, the owner of Barnes Moving and Storage, to stop parking trucks on property for which he has no special permit.

Mr. Barnes was arraigned September 7, charged with a municipal bylaw violation, before Judge Joseph W. Jennings 3rd, in the Edgartown District Court. A pre-trial hearing is set for October 19.

Tisbury building and zoning inspector Ken Barwick applied for the complaint against Mr. Barnes on June 22, for violation of his special permit from the Tisbury Zoning Board of Appeals (ZBA). Among the permit’s provisions, it specifies the number of vehicles, items stored inside them, and the way they are arranged on Mr. Barnes’s property on State Road, at the intersection with Evelyn Way.

The permit grants a zoning bylaw exception for the outside storage of trucks, and household items stored within them, in order to conduct business outside of an enclosed building,

Mr. Barwick said the special permit does not, however, apply to Mr. Barnes’s property at 392 State Road, where he has been parking an average of 12 vehicles a day along its boundary on High Point Lane.

In a conversation at The Times offices Tuesday, Mr. Barwick said he wrote to Mr. Barnes more than a year ago about parking the vehicles and equipment there in violation of zoning. He told Mr. Barnes that if he wanted to continue doing so, he would need to apply for the same special permit he has for his property on Evelyn Way.

Mr. Barwick said he issued four citations for zoning bylaw offenses to Mr. Barnes last year, for parking vehicles at the High Point Lane and State Road property.

Mr. Barwick said he ultimately filed the complaint to compel Mr. Barnes to pay the tickets and get the vehicles off the lot. Zoning bylaw offenses carry a fine of $50 each, the municipal bylaw violations, $300 per offense.

“Right now, the goal is to get the vehicles removed off the High Point Lane property, and we are also looking into the condition of the Evelyn Way property, where he operates Barnes Moving and Storage, as to compliance with the special permit that is controlling that site,” Mr. Barwick said.

In a phone call with The Times yesterday, Mr. Barnes offered his side of the story.

“About a month and a half, two months ago, the building inspector came to me and said you’ve got to get those trucks out of there,” he said. “And I said, Kenny, look, it’s the height of the season, I’ve got 25 guys working, I’ve got trucks all over the place; the only thing I can do with those trucks on the road is to bring them back and park them on Evelyn Way, and boy, are people going to scream.”

In conclusion, Mr. Barnes said he told Mr. Barwick, “I think you’re going to have to do what you have to do, but I’m not moving them.”

Mr. Barnes also was not receptive to Mr. Barwick’s suggestion that he apply for another special permit. “I’ve been in business here since 1980, and now I’ve got to go back for another hearing?”

He explained that part of his dilemma with the High Point Lane property is that it is currently in regulatory limbo. In 2010, Mr. Barnes proposed building a vehicle refueling station for gas-powered and electric vehicles on the lot, which triggered the project’s automatic referral to the Martha’s Vineyard Commission (MVC) for review as a development of regional impact (DRI). Until the MVC acts on the referral, the ZBA and other local boards have no authority to issue any permits on the property.

Mr. Barnes said he recently met with MVC staff member Paul Foley, the DRI analyst and planner, who scheduled his refueling station project on the Land Use Planning Committee’s agenda at 6 pm, September 17.

“Why is Ken spending this money, why can’t he just wait until October?” Mr. Barnes said. “Because I told him that I told town counsel, sometime around October, I’m going to make a decision, because if they shoot me down with the gas station, or if I go ahead with the gas station, I’ll borrow another half a million bucks and part of that money will go to take care of the parking situation. But there is literally no place to go.”