The battle over the repositioned pool bar at the Harbor View Hotel returned to the Edgartown zoning board of appeals Wednesday night when neighbors requested a revocation of the building permit. In a 4-1 vote, the board opted to uphold the permit.
Ahead of the vote, attorneys argued each side’s position in the matter, and a number of neighbors expressed their frustration with both the pool bar and revelry in general at the hotel, which they deemed disruptive. The attorney representing the Harbor View Hotel was Kevin O’Flaherty of the Boston firm Goulston and Storrs. The attorney representing several of the abutters was Felicia Ellsworth of the Boston firm WilmerHale. Edgartown attorney Dan Larkosh, who is working with Ellsworth on the abutters’ behalf, was also present.
James Swartz, an abutter, told the board he spoke not just for himself but on behalf of his wife, his children and their spouses, and his nine grandkids. While he praised “substantial” improvements made to the hotel, he said special permits that govern outdoor entertainment, including noise levels and food and beverage service, have been chronically violated even before the pool bar was erected in a new spot. The restrictions stipulated in those permits “have required constant enforcement by abutters,” he said. “Every summer brings new hotel management and a new battle to enforce the restrictions.”
Swartz said each summer his family and neighbors deal with visitors disturbing the peace, loud music, “drunken outdoor parties,” drunks on lawns, and “abusive language and arguments,” among other things.
Neighbor Joe Smith said he hears F-bombs “dropped all the time,” along with breaking bottles.
“If you think there’s no noise in there, you’re wrong,” he said. Smith said parking was bad on Fuller Street and North Water Street. “Where are these people going to park who are going to go to this restaurant?” he asked.
Like many people who spoke, Geoff Caraboolad, who described himself as an immediate abutter, said he did not receive notice of the previous zoning board hearing.
“Any person in this room that would have a bar coming up to their property within 100 feet would show up to the hearing — any one of them,” he said. “That didn’t happen.”
Caraboolad told the board he is in the building and development field and, therefore, “found it odd” that the zoning board “didn’t find it strange that nobody showed up to object.”
“I never received notice of this hearing,” abutter Lynn Allegaert said regarding the zoning board’s previous hearing on the pool bar, “and if I had I would have appeared and voiced my opposition.”
“Ladies and gentlemen,” Swartz said, “I am a person of integrity, as are all the plaintiffs and affiants who have submitted these affidavits. You are likely aware that various press accounts and legal pleadings have made thinly veiled comments about confusion over off-Island addresses and ultimate ownership. This is a smokescreen. We are not lying. The so-called notice was deeply flawed at best.”
Swartz went on to suggest Edgartown bore some culpability.
“What I find most disturbing,” he said, “I see administrators and town officials aiding and abetting a blight on our town. The manner in which this whole project has been slipped through the town by misrepresentation, mischaracterization, and subterfuge has left me deeply suspicious of this entire process. The result will be a terrible stain on this community forever, unless you, this board, does something about it. I urge you to stop to reconsider the long-term impact, the legacy, of your actions.”
Zoning board member Richard Knight objected to some of the comments made during the meeting. “Having sat on this board for 30 years, more than 30 years, I’m really offended that an accusation would be made that we are devious or dishonest,” Knight said. “I’m really taken aback by that.” But Knight also said he found the building inspector’s decision may have been tainted by a zoning board decision he called “defective” due to lack of proper notice. Knight was the sole vote in favor of revoking the building permit.
Larkosh later told The Times the abutters will appeal the denial in superior court.