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    Op-Ed
    Saturday, July 20, 2024

    Special permit belongs to Noank property

    In his recent column about possible changes to Ford's in Noank, David Collins characterized the evolution to what it became as "organic" which is misleading. The evolution of Ford's from a marina with a store selling live lobsters was as follows:

    In 2011 or thereabouts, Kris Nyman applied for and received permission from the Noank Zoning Commission to begin operating a seasonal lobster roll stand in the area near the marina's dock.

    In 2013 or 2014 he applied for and received permission to construct bathrooms in an existing building to serve the marina and the seasonal lobster roll stand. While installing the bathrooms, he took the liberty, without application or permission, to modify the rest of the building to create a kitchen and indoor dining room, and built an adjacent outdoor patio with tables and chairs.

    When village residents noted the operation of the unauthorized indoor restaurant and patio, they reported it to the Noank zoning enforcement officer, who issued a ‘cease-and-desist’ order in the summer of 2014. The ‘cease-and-desist’ order resulted in applications by Nyman to the Noank Zoning Commission for a special permit (required because operating a restaurant in the village residential district in Noank is not allowed unless a special permit is obtained) to operate the expanded restaurant built in violation of the zoning regulations, and for approval under the commission's regulations for architectural design review for the unauthorized modifications to the existing building. (It is worth noting that Nyman was a member of the Noank Zoning Commission while these violations were underway.)

    The application for a special permit was the subject of three public hearings, each of which took two-plus hours, with testimony by Nyman's representatives and supporters and opponents concerned about the disruption to the quiet, residential life they enjoyed and expected in the Noank village.

    The Noank Zoning Commission, following the hearings, met and decided in March 2015 to issue a special permit with strong restrictions on the operation of Ford's, all restrictions based on a careful adherence to and application of the Noank zoning regulations. This careful process cost the Noank Fire District tens of thousands of dollars in legal fees.

    In my opinion, the extensive, contentious, expensive process described above was anything but organic.

    The special permit belongs to the property where Ford's was located, and will apply to anyone choosing to operate a restaurant on the property in the future, with all of its permissions and restrictions.

    The above information is largely based on my serving as the acting chair of the Noank Zoning Commission during the processing of the Ford's applications and decisions.

    Nip Tanner served on the Noank Zoning Commission from 2013-2022, including as the chairman from 2014-16.

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