A pool bar underway at the Harbor View Hotel has triggered a lawsuit by seven abutters. The suit seeks to annul a building permit for the bar and to rescind and redo a zoning board of appeals decision that allowed the permit to move forward.
Plaintiffs Lynn Allegaert, Edwin Brooks, Geoff Caraboolad, Louise Neuhoff, Joseph Smith, James Swartz, and Richard Zannino filed the suit in the Dukes County Superior Court on June 21 through Edgartown attorney Dan Larkosh. A hearing on a preliminary injunction requested by Larkosh on behalf of his clients is scheduled Wednesday, July 17, at 10 am.
Larkosh told The Times the hotel isn’t creating a new pool bar; it’s moving a pre-existing one. The problem with that, in his client’s eyes, is the pool bar, which he referred to as a “tiki bar,” has been relocated outside the confines of the pool area to another part of the hotel property, where neighbors can see and potentially hear it, he said. The number of seats has been increased, he said. Of chief concern to his clients, Larkosh said, is that they allegedly weren’t notified by Edgartown’s zoning board that a hearing was held on the pool bar. He described the structure as a bar without walls that will create disruptive noise in a residential neighborhood.
Some 11 people didn’t get a notice, and “they were the closest abutters,” Lynn Allegaert told The Times. Allegaert said she can see the developing pool bar from upper-story windows of her home on Thayer Street, and that the bar is also visible at street level on Fuller Street. From Fuller Street, a structure similar to a gazebo or pavilion can been seen well into the hotel property, past some low hedges.
Edgartown building inspector Lenny Jason said the pool bar has been there since 1992. On Monday, he said, he went to the hotel, where the new pool bar is under construction, and ordered a work stoppage. Jason said what has been erected doesn’t appear to mirror the plans submitted to the building department. He said he told an onsite representative of the hotel the stop order would endure “until we get this straightened out.”
Edgartown town administrator James Hagerty declined to comment on the matter due to the pending litigation. Zoning board administrator Lisa Morrison was out Monday, and could not be reached for comment Tuesday. Board chairman Martin Tomassian, who told The Times he’s been a member of the board for “close to 30 years” and chair for approximately 15 years, declined to comment due to the lawsuit. However, he did say, in general, the argument of no notice received is a “common refrain in any such action.”
R.P. Thompson, property manager for Upland Capital, the Boston firm that acquired the hotel in 2018, withheld comment Monday until he could confirm who from his company should speak on the matter. Edgartown attorney Sean Murphy, who represents the hotel, declined to comment on the elements of the suit except to say he was not in charge of sending out notices or placing newspaper ads relative to the zoning board. Upland Capital founder and chair Bernard Chiu could not be reached for comment.
A copy of the board’s decision on file at the Edgartown zoning board office indicated the project was approved May 3. That decision received a certification from town clerk Karen Medeiros on June 10 that indicated no appeal was filed for at least 20 days after the decision. The decision states “[n]o abutters, town board[s] or departments, or members of the general public has any objection to the project.”
John Magnuson is logged in the minutes of the meeting as making a motion to grant the Harbor View Hotel the special permit required for the project. The minutes state, “He found the proposal to be in harmony with the bylaw. He noted there is no change of use, and that the new bar will be smaller than the old bar, with a negligible net gain of two seats. He said he found the new location to be appropriate, and did not believe that the change would have a negative effect on the neighborhood.”
“I read those minutes — I was in shock,” Allegaert said.