Archive for » August 18th, 2017«

Zoning change needed for boat storage

By THOMAS P. CALDWELL, LACONIA DAILY SUN
MEREDITH — Proponents of a plan to change a property’s use from a motorcycle museum to boat storage say that it would provide an economic and aesthetic benefit to the community. The town’s Zoning Board of Adjustment must first approve the change, however.
The ZBA has changed the date of its deliberations on the application to allow boat storage at property now housing the American Police Motorcycle Museum from Aug. 24 to Tuesday, Aug. 22.
Owner Doug Frederick is looking to relocate the motorcycle museum, and Meredith Marina is looking to purchase the property at 194 Daniel Webster Highway. The town ruled that boat storage was not an allowed use in that zone which meant Frederick had to seek a special exception from the zoning board.
“This potential purchase of the property is the next great thing for Meredith Marina as well as the Town of Meredith,” said Matt O’Neil, the marina’s general manager.
In a letter supporting the special exception that was read into the record at the zoning board’s Aug. 10 meeting, O’Neil said the purchase makes sense because of its proximity to the marina’s current waterfront location.
“It is our intention to clean up the property and relocate our sales department,” O’Neil said. “In doing so, we plan to expand, creating employment opportunities within the local community and also create additional revenue for the Town of Meredith simultaneously.”
While there were some questions about moving boats in and out of the property due to heavy traffic on Route 3, Frederick says the traffic lights at the Route 104 intersection and the rotary at the intersection with Parade Road serve to create gaps that allow entry and egress from the property.
The property has a great line of sight, Frederick said, and he also noted that most boat traffic in and out would occur prior to Motorcycle Week and in the fall around Columbus Day when the roads see less traffic.
O’Neil echoed the sentiment, calling the traffic pattern “very favorable for the plans that we would to love to be able to implement at the property. We have all seen the changes just down the road at Church Landing and love the idea. We would like to be able to follow suit providing greater employment opportunities.”
Frederick issued a statement, saying, “We have had a wonderful relationship with the Marina for almost four years. I have deep respect for the owner who treats his employees and customers like family.”
He said the marina “offers us the best and possibly only chance to complete [the move] in a timely fashion. The process will take a minimum of two years, as after we sell the museum property and empty the building, we must also sell the home we purchased in the Lakes Region before we begin relocation and set up at our new location.”
Frederick would not reveal where he planned to reopen the motorcycle museum, except to say that it would be in New Hampshire. He said he will temporarily put the motorcycles and police memorabilia in storage.
Frederick also had letters of support from both McDonald’s and Ippolito’s, the two properties overlooking the property.
No one raised objections to the plan during the public hearing on the proposal, but the zoning board will have to determine whether a special exception is appropriate when it meets on Tuesday.
“We love what we do, and we love New Hampshire,” Frederick said, emphasizing how well-received the motorcycle museum has been and how welcoming the community is. “We love it here.”
The property where the motorcycle museum is located is the former home of Burlwood Antiques.


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This lawmaker bought a luxury houseboat in 2004. He never paid a dime in property taxes.

State Rep. C. Wesley Morgan failed to pay property taxes on his $350,000 houseboat for more than a decade, denying school districts and local governments thousands of dollars each year, according to public records and interviews with officials.

Morgan, a Republican from Richmond, confirmed through a spokeswoman that he paid sales tax on the luxury boat when he bought it in 2004 but has never paid property taxes on it.

The freshman state lawmaker said he could not speak with a Herald-Leader reporter about the boat without first getting permission from House GOP leaders, who allowed him to answer questions through Daisy Olivo, a spokeswoman for House Republicans.

Morgan registered his boat with the U.S. Coast Guard after buying it and believed that as a result of doing so, he did not owe any further taxes on it, Olivo said.

“He is unaware of any outstanding taxes owed,” Olivo said.

Morgan’s understanding is incorrect, according to state and local officials.

Officials in Pulaski County, where the boat is docked on Lake Cumberland, said the 2016 property tax bill on the boat would have been either $2,350 or $4,487, depending on its documentation status with the Coast Guard. Those figures were calculated using local tax rates and the $350,000 value of the boat listed in a court document.

Morgan’s boat has been docked at a Pulaski County marina since 2014, so he should have paid property taxes in the county in 2015, 2016 and 2017, according to the Pulaski County clerk’s office.

WesleyMorgan

The state, the county school system, local services such as the library, as well as the city of Burnside, would have shared the money.

If Morgan did not pay taxes on the boat going back more than a decade, he ultimately could face a bill totaling tens of thousands of dollars because of added penalties and interest, said Tim Popplewell, the property valuation administrator in Russell County, who deals with houseboat taxes.

“He’s gonna get a big tax bill,” Popplewell said. “You’re gonna get upwards of $75,000 in a hurry.”

Popplewell said he has heard the claim a few times that documenting a houseboat with the Coast Guard excuses the owner from paying taxes.

That’s not the case, and it strains credulity that Morgan — a businessman who owns four liquor stores — would believe it, Popplewell said.

“I think that is a lame excuse that some people use,” he said.

Morgan has been the subject of controversy since joining the legislature in January because of proposed laws he filed to benefit his business and an arrest for illegally transporting alcohol as he moved products from one of his stores to another.

State law at the time barred liquor store owners from taking alcohol across county lines without a transporter’s license, a law designed to combat bootlegging. The legislature later changed the law and a judge dismissed the charge against Morgan, saying the statute was unconstitutional even before the change.

Officials said houseboat owners must declare their boat for tax purposes one of two ways in Kentucky.

One is to file a tangible tax return with the property valuation administrator in the county where the boat is docked, or with the Kentucky Department of Revenue. That method is for boats that have been registered with the Coast Guard.

The advantage of doing that is that there is a sizable state tax break on such “documented” boats. The state tax rate on tangible property is 45 cents per $100 valuation, but it’s only 1.5 cents per $100 on documented houseboats. Counties, schools and other local taxing districts can levy much higher tax rates on documented boats.

If the houseboat is not documented with the Coast Guard, the owner should get a title for it at the county clerk’s office, just as for other types of boats, according to the Kentucky Department of Revenue.

Records show Morgan did not go either route.

Morgan’s boat was not on Pulaski County’s certified personal property tax roll in 2015, 2016 or 2017, when a separate court record says it was docked at Lee’s Ford Marina Resort. That means he did not file a tangible tax return in those years.

In addition, there’s no record that he documented the boat with the Coast Guard in those years.

A Coast Guard database of documented boats current as of early July included an entry for the name and identification number of Morgan’s boat, but listed it as “case pending.”

Rodney G. Davis, a Richmond attorney who represents Morgan in a lawsuit involving the boat, said Thursday that a request to document the vessel with the Coast Guard is pending.

On the other front, Morgan did not obtain a title on the boat until July 17, 13 years after he bought it, according to state Transportation Cabinet records.

The title issued to Morgan in July said it was a first-time title. That means there would not have been information in the system to generate a property tax bill for Morgan, according to the Pulaski County clerk’s office.

The newspaper was not able to confirm whether Morgan docked the boat in other counties earlier and if so when, leaving no way to use local tax rates to determine the total amount of taxes Wesley would have owed on his boat from earlier years.

But with the boat now in the system, the Department of Revenue will be able to calculate how much Morgan owes in omitted taxes, penalties and interest, Popplewell said.

“And they won’t back off,” Popplewell said.

The department can’t comment on individual taxpayers because of confidentiality rules, said Glenn Waldrop, a spokesman for the department.

Morgan said in his application for the title that he bought the boat in 2004. He listed the purchase price as $525,000.

The manufacturer was Sharpe Houseboats in Somerset, a one-time industry leader that later went out of business.

The 112-foot long boat reportedly was a showpiece, featured in promotional efforts by the company.

Morgan said in a separate affidavit that Sharpe Houseboats did not complete the registration process on the boat. Still, he was able to obtain a title, and could have done so earlier, local officials said.

Morgan has been involved in litigation over the boat in Pulaski County.

Morgan sued Lee’s Ford in 2016, alleging that the marina had illegally placed a lien on the boat and chained it to the dock.

Morgan had an agreement to sell the boat at the time, according to a court record. He asked a judge to force the marina to release the boat.

Lee’s Ford owner J.D. Hamilton argued in response that Morgan had not paid slip-rental fees and a commission that was due because he had listed his boat with Hamilton to sell, but then sold it privately.

Morgan struck a deal to sell the boat, which he moved to Lee’s Ford in 2014, for $350,000, Hamilton said. That sale was rescinded during the dispute over control of the boat.

Hamilton said in a court document that when he told Morgan he owed rental fees and a commission, Morgan said, “I don’t give a f— what you do. You go get a lawyer.”

Morgan recently posted a bond of $162,444 — twice what Lee’s Ford’s attorney, John S. Gillum, calculated Morgan could owe in moorage fees if he loses the case.

Hamilton released the boat and Morgan moved it to another marina.


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Boatsetter buys boat-sharing rival Boatbound, announces funding to …

South Florida is already one of the world’s great boating capitals. Now the region can also claim to be a boat-sharing industry leader, as more people seek out accessible ways to get out on the water and more boat owners oblige by turning their pleasure crafts into money makers.

Boatsetter, a peer-to-peer marketplace for boat rentals, has acquired its Seattle-based rival Boatbound, powering up the South Florida startup’s presence throughout the United States. The Aventura-based company also announced that it has raised an additional $4.75 million in funding, on top of the $13 million announced in December, to fund its international expansion.

Like others in the boat-sharing economy, Boatsetter attempts to make the boat rental experience as seamless as booking a room on Airbnb by connecting people seeking rentals with boat owners looking to monetize the time their boats aren’t used. But Boatsetter differentiates itself by giving its users access to a large network of licensed captains as well as a growing roster of high-end boat rentals for yachting, cruising, fishing or sailing, 24/7 customer support and insurance coverage for renters, boat owners and captains.

“This acquisition now makes us the No. 1 peer-to-peer boat rental community in the United States hands down,” said Jaclyn Baumgarten, CEO and co-founder of Boatsetter, who wouldn’t disclose terms of the deal. “It means about 5,000 quality vessels ready to be rented, it brings us 1,500 U.S. coastguard licensed captains, it will mean about 10,000 transactions between the companies in 2017 and it brings us 300 locations.”

Baumgarten said the acquisition particularly expands Boatsetter’s inventory in Chicago, Los Angeles, Seattle and Washington, DC.


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South Florida boat-sharing startup swallows up big US rival, plans global expansion

South Florida is already one of the world’s great boating capitals. Now the region can also claim to be a boat-sharing industry leader, as more people seek out accessible ways to get out on the water and more boat owners oblige by turning their pleasure crafts into money makers.

Boatsetter, a peer-to-peer marketplace for boat rentals, has acquired its Seattle-based rival Boatbound, powering up the South Florida startup’s presence throughout the United States. The Aventura-based company also announced that it has raised an additional $4.75 million in funding, on top of the $13 million announced in December, to fund its international expansion.

Like others in the boat-sharing economy, Boatsetter attempts to make the boat rental experience as seamless as booking a room on Airbnb by connecting people seeking rentals with boat owners looking to monetize the time their boats aren’t used. But Boatsetter differentiates itself by giving its users access to a large network of licensed captains as well as a growing roster of high-end boat rentals for yachting, cruising, fishing or sailing, 24/7 customer support and insurance coverage for renters, boat owners and captains.

“This acquisition now makes us the No. 1 peer-to-peer boat rental community in the United States hands down,” said Jaclyn Baumgarten, CEO and co-founder of Boatsetter, who wouldn’t disclose terms of the deal. “It means about 5,000 quality vessels ready to be rented, it brings us 1,500 U.S. coastguard licensed captains, it will mean about 10,000 transactions between the companies in 2017 and it brings us 300 locations.”

Baumgarten said the acquisition particularly expands Boatsetter’s inventory in Chicago, Los Angeles, Seattle and Washington, DC.


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