Motorcycle museum owner continues battle to allow boat storage on property

MEREDITH — A businessman who is looking to sell his property to a boat sales operation contends that the town’s argument that the storage of boats “by definition is an obnoxious, injurious, and offensive activity” makes no sense in a lake community.
Douglas Frederick, owner of the New Hampshire Police Motorcycle Museum, maintains that the town has treated him unfairly and is making punitive decisions that violate previous verbal agreements with him, and he is seeking redress in Belknap County Superior Court. A merits hearing is scheduled Thursday at 9 a.m.
Frederick is facing $250 a day in fines for having boats on the Route 3 property that formerly was home to Burlwood Antiques.
He said the town gave him permission four years ago to allow Meredith Marine to store boats on his property, but, last spring, told him the boats had to removed by May 1. Through his attorney, William Woodbury, Frederick asked for an extension to Aug. 1, when his contract with Meredith Marine would be over. Without informing him, the code enforcement officer, Scott Lacroix, on May 15, made an administrative decision that, because boat storage violated Meredith’s zoning ordinance and Frederick had not removed the boats, he was in violation.
It was not until Woodbury followed up on his request for an extension on May 18 that he learned of the administrative decision and, the next day, he let the town know they had not received notice of the decision. He filed an appeal on June 19, noting that the 30-day deadline for appeals fell on a Saturday, so he filed it the following Monday.
The town contends that he missed the deadline for an appeal and the Zoning Board of Adjustment denied it on Aug. 10. It also denied his motion for a rehearing on Sept. 25, and the motion to extend the period of boat storage also was denied.
Meanwhile, Frederick said, the town began asking other businesses with boats on routes 3 and 25 to move them off their properties, and the town attempted to fine him $250 a day, retroactively, on his violation. That prompted Frederick to file a restraining order against the town to stop the fine from accumulating during the appeals process.
The town maintains that Lacroix never told Frederick that the boats could remain on the property through the appeals process and that he was ordered to have them removed in December, and that there was never any agreement that allowed them there in the first place. The town also maintains that the decisions are in no way punitive.
“The non-residential use also requires a site plan approval, which plaintiff has neither applied for nor received,” the town states in its objection to the restraining order.
Frederick said the town’s actions are preventing him from selling his property. Meredith Marine wants to purchase the property and make it a sales office, but the sale remains under a cloud while the dispute continues.
“There is no place like the Lakes Region of New Hampshire,” Frederick said. “The worst part is we have to go.”
He would not talk about what he believes to be the precipitating event, only referring to a complaint he made to the town about a Nov. 16, 2015, event that occurred on his property and which he brought to the attention of the town. In his mind, that is when the town turned against him.
That was the date Frederick previously said that a foul odor and ash from the neighboring crematorium at Mayhew Funeral Home had fallen on his property. He said he had gathered evidence which the town never accepted, and his repeated calls for action on what he felt was an obnoxious, injurious, and offensive activity led to a defamation suit from the funeral home. That and Frederick’s countersuit eventually were resolved through a settlement agreement.
Frederick testified on Jan. 17 in favor of new legislation in Concord sponsored by Sen. Bob Giuda that would require towns to notify abutters about proposals for crematoriums, and require environmental impact studies before they are approved.
Frederick was emphatic that the bill should not hurt funeral homes, and that it would be a disaster to take control away from them, but, “My whole purpose was not to have this happen to anyone else.”

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