CEO’s action makes for smooth sailing for new Boothbay business

Lorrain assists board in allowing sailmaker into residential zone
Tue, 10/23/2018 - 7:00am

A new Boothbay business is ready to set sail thanks to an assist from the code enforcement office. Mike Bartles got the go-ahead last week to open his sailmaking business on Corey Lane, one day after the planning board ruled such an activity was prohibited in a residential zone.

On Oct. 17, the Witt Family Living Trust requested a use change for its property at 73 Corey Lane. The board unanimously approved the change, but ruled a proposed future use by a prospective renter wasn’t allowed. Mike Bartles moved five and half years ago from Farmington, Connecticut to Boothbay to begin a career in sailmaking. He has worked for Nathaniel Wilson’s sailmaking business, and he’s ready to start his own business. 

Bartles thought he found the right location one day when he saw the for rent sign. He worked out a deal with Witt to rent the building for $1,100 per month. Witt believed the next step was requesting a routine change of use from the planning board. But the simple change became complicated when Witt listed sailmaking as a potential use.  Initially, board members ruled activities like sail repair are an allowed maritime use. But they ruled sailmaking as a manufacturing, not a maritime use.

Bartles’ sole interest in the building was for sailmaking and the rental agreement hinged on being  able to manufacturer sails. Code Enforcement Officer Jason Lorrain advised board members the property fell under a different category. He described  73 Corey Lane as an “existing, non-conforming use. ” He asked for more time to research the property’s past use. He discovered the original owner, Bigelow Laboratory, and current owner, Witt Family Living Trust, had both used the building for manufacturing.

“This probably should’ve never gone to the planning board,” Lorrain said Oct. 22. “I thought it qualified as an existing non-conforming use and the next day I did some calling.  So now the owner and renter are free to go forward with the project.”

The board meets next at 7 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 21 in the municipal building’s conference room.