Town, Barnes still at odds

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The building inspector says Clarence ("Trip") Barnes must stop renting rooms in this building at 300 State Road.

The town’s inspectors returned to 300 State Road in Vineyard Haven Tuesday, but Clarence (“Trip”) Barnes III remains steadfast that his license to sell used car sales shouldn’t be tied up over a zoning dispute over rented rooms.

In the original document ordering Barnes to stop renting rooms, building inspector Ross Seavey wrote that the follow-up inspection would be Monday, Jan. 20. But since that was the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday, and town offices were closed, the inspectors showed up Tuesday morning.

“I have one person left in the basement,” Barnes told The Times. “I told them, I’m not kicking him out on the coldest day of the year.”

Building inspector Ross Seavey told The Times Barnes still has “multiple violations” at the building. “We’re going to engage in enforcement actions. We’re reviewing all of our codes and draft notices to Barnes.”

Barnes told The Times that he’s told people renting rooms upstairs in the building — one woman has been there for 10 years, and others have no place to go — to stay put.

In the basement, Barnes said, the inspectors asked him why he had not torn down the walls. In order to keep the partitions, the rooms need windows so someone could escape in a fire, he was told.

“I’m not going to tear down the walls that have been there since I owned it,” Barnes said.

Seavey explained that even though Barnes turned a door around in the basement, the tiny basement windows don’t allow for someone to escape in a fire. “The door example was just one example of an issue I brought up to him,” Seavey said, again noting that the windows won’t allow for proper egress in an emergency.

When the town officials left, Barnes said he was told the town would be seeking the advice of town counsel on how to proceed. 

Barnes is still furious that the town is holding up his used car business, which he says has nothing to do with the apartments. “They’re just begging for a lawsuit,” Barnes said. “I don’t want to sue my town. I do too much for the town. This is absolutely ridiculous.”

Asked if he was disappointed Barnes had not complied with his order, Seavey said, “Of course, we’re disappointed. We have safety concerns with people living in the building if there’s not adequate egress.”

Barnes said there is nothing unsafe about the conditions.

16 COMMENTS

    • A housing crisis is a housing crisis. When the towns refuse to address the needs of the community and continue to promote regulation that actively harms average citizen’s ability to put a roof over their head, people are going to result to desperate actions.

  1. Here comes another law suit for the Town of Tisbury. I wonder how much the town has spent on legal defense thus far in the past several years? I think the town has an obligation to report to the tax payers how much money they are spending on defense in courts. The town should know better than to mix two issues with Trippy. The car license has nothing to do with renting rooms. Utilizing a situation to ‘strong arm’ Trippy to ‘fix’ another situation doesn’t seem fair and shows the town is willing to break the law and rules in order to get what they want. This has been an ongoing theme for the past several years. It also shows that the town, under current leadership, is willing to engage in behavior that is retaliatory in nature when they do not prevail in some of their politically motivated agendas.

    • What is the politically motivated agenda you are referring too? Um. Compliance with safety code requirements and town bylaws? Are you suggesting that Mr. Barnes sue the town so he could sell a few cars, all the while he knows he doesn’t have the appropriate permit for renting rooms? Maybe they deny him the car license until he cleans up a few or many of the trailers that are rotting away at that location. Come on. Clean it up. Get your house in order. Get your permits. Your complaining about compliance with rules is so very tiring.

    • I do not understand your comments? All you ask is available and public records and shown at every town meeting. In my town of OB it’s listed in the budget as a line item. Towns should never shy away from a lawsuit if brought to defends its positions to enhance public safety. Do you want to live in an accident waiting to happen room in a basement without smokes and proper egress? Sounds like you’ve been fighting Tisbury and have lost your perspective.

  2. The inspectors asked him why he had not torn down the walls. I was led to believe it was just carbon monoxide and fire detectors.

    • If you have a sleeping room you need a second egress. Ie. a window of appropriate size to escape. Great to have a smoke detector. But doesn’t matter if you can’t get out. That is why there are codes about sleeping rooms in basements. Lots of complaints about a permit to sell cars but where are all the outcries over the safety violations?

  3. The building inspector is doing his job. In fact if the town looked the other way the town would loose a multi million dollar lawsuit if a fire occurred and someone could not escape.

  4. I wouldn’t criticize a zoning official for doing their job. This case apparently needs to be corrected with respect to fire safety, even if it is/was a non-conforming pre-exisitng use. Is that the case or did Mr Barnes build the rooms? More importantly the SAME codes must be enforced at OTHER buildings. There is no secret that in other towns there are many places with illegal aliens stuffed into houses and this exceeds the septic capacity and creates fire hazards. I’d assume the same applies to Tisbury rentals. More importantly enforcement must be applied to ALL, not just selectively to this one individual. No matter what good intent Mr Barnes has, you can’t have a structure deemed to be unsafe. Question for the Tisbury residents.. DOES Tisbury require a ‘conformity’ inspection when a building is sold, so that situations like this can be corrected? If buildings do not conform to current codes, they could at least be checked for safety.
    And this has nothing to do with a used car sales license. I’d expect the same people who are so offended by our President being accused of withholding $$ to Ukraine to show their outrage at the Town Selectman of Tisbury for using the same ‘alleged’ quid-pro-quo

  5. Of course, once alerted to a fire hazard, the town has got to deal with it. But I know of several instances where Tisbury residents called the board of health about awful situations in neighboring houses (overcrowding, overflowing septic, rats, and other delights), and nothing seemed to change. How about illegal daycares in VH? And do town officials themselves always adhere to the rulebook when having work done on their own homes and businesses? Consistency would go a long way toward convincing the public that safety is indeed the primary issue in cases like these. Then, if Mr. Barnes cried persecution, we wouldn’t have to wonder if he’s maybe right!

  6. Very Good building inspector Ross Seavey, Trippy has to finally be taken down a few notches!
    Hopefully now that Kenny B is gone you will start cleaning up our residential areas of illegal business, illegal aliens not complying with our business and residential compliance codes, laws, and bylaws. Known over crowing of residential homes must come to a screaming halt!
    Some of us have already approached you with our issues and you have been very understanding, sympathetic and you know the laws and bylaws of our state and town.
    We are very glad you are on board in Tisbury we need a new face like you!
    Mr. Seavey the disgruntled silent majority on the island is all ready to back somebody that has the leadership and guts to remedy this decades long problem in our residential areas.
    When we see that you need our help we will back you 100%.
    It was recently reported / overheard that of aprox 5,000 Brazilians on MV 600 max are here legally.
    We Need enforcement and new leadership in our town!

  7. The recent contretemps between Trip Barnes and the administration of Vineyard Haven – “select” board, administrator, assorted board heads – has highlighted that town’s approaches to governance.

    The first is the pastoral, slothful approach in which the administrators ignore assorted departments’ decisions and their results ( banks pulling out, boats sinking, etc. )

    The second approach is the hyperactive, zealous attack on particular individuals, town employees and town folk alike, who work hard and try to do the right thing. It remains to be shown that all businesses and people are treated in the same way.

    Both approaches are littered with obvious administrative personal favoritism or animosity. Both approaches end up in costing the town less than optimal business practices, and money in legal fees.

    However, Vineyard Haven will be able to look forward to another traffic-jamming musical event this summer: Brace yourselves for the up-coming spectacle of the Select board donning their finest party frocks and scattering rose petals across the soggy playing field, busking for Adam Epstein and his “crooner in the mix” and “special pricing.” There’s a whole lot of special pricing going on…..

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