Zoners reject permit for ‘Sacred Waters’

The Planning and Zoning Commission voted to deny a special permit application for a pond-dredging service at 6 Clearview Drive Tuesday, June 5.

Business owner John Keegan had been running the business, Sacred Waters LLC, out of his home for several years until neighbor Jeffrey Londona filed a complaint to the planning and zoning department on April 23. A week after that complaint, Keegan was issued a written warning by the town to either apply for a special permit to run a home business, or to remove the equipment from his yard.

On Tuesday night, six neighbors spoke against Keegan’s application claiming the equipment used for his pond-dredging business creates an eyesore for neighbors and devalues surrounding properties.

Keegan told the commission he would build a 200-square-foot shed to store some of the equipment away from his neighbors’ line of view. He also suggested he would build a fence, or plant a buffer of evergreen trees, to block their view of a 20-foot pond-dredging pontoon boat which he keeps on a trailer in his driveway.

That piece of equipment seemed to draw the ire of neighbors more than any other machinery in Keegan’s yard.

“There is nowhere on this property to discreetly hide this equipment,” said Kristen Londona, who lives adjacent to Keegan’s property on Clearview Drive.

“This argument originated when this piece of equipment showed up about a year ago,” she added. “This is a lake community, these houses were never built with full-time occupancy in mind. They were built as summer homes.”

“That takes a toll, and now we want to kick that up a notch?” she asked.

For and against

Seven commissioners voted to deny the application based on a stipulation in the town regulations governing special permits that the proposed use must be “appropriate for the proposed location.”

Commissioner John Katz quoted those criteria several times in his decision to vote against the application.

“The prime criteria as to why these applications get approved or denied is appropriate location,” said Katz. “I have a lot of trouble shoehorning this into that criteria.”

He suggested the small size of the lake-community properties and fact that homes were built close to one another meant the business was inappropriate for the location.

But Chairwoman Rebecca Mucchetti, who cast one of the votes against denying the special permit, said she was “not offended by this application at all.”

She suggested that if the commission was concerned by Keegan running a business on a small lake-community lot, they should rewrite the regulations governing large home occupations.

Mucchetti noted that every application for a major home occupation in her recent memory had neighbors turn out against the home business.

Commissioner George Hanlon also voted against denial, citing Keegan’s willingness to build a shed to store the equipment and to build a fence to hide the pontoon boat.