The Petersburg Borough Assembly will wait to decide a land-use appeal for a new building on Petersburg’s waterfront. The property owner wants a permit for a two-family residential building on industrial land neat Petersburg’s South Harbor.

In April Bill Menish applied for a condition use permit for the building he’s putting up at 710 South Nordic Drive. The structure is on land zoned for industrial use and Menish wants to have two residential dwellings in the building. Petersburg’s planning and zoning commission denied that conditional use permit in August, finding that residential dwellings were not compatible with the nearby cold storage and public harbor.

Menish testified to the assembly by phone and pointed out the residential properties that are already throughout that neighborhood.

“There are more non-industrial buildings in this zone than industrial,” Menish said. “Is it a perfect world? Maybe not. But this mixed use has been here a long time.”

Menish was granted a building permit for a warehouse on the site. Borough code allows for one residence, or a care-takers dwelling with such a structure, but a second dwelling requires the conditional use permit with planning and zoning approval. Menish is hoping to have a Bed and Breakfast or rental apartment as part of his building.

Assembly members were generally supportive of overturning the commission’s decision and allowing the conditional use permit. Kurt Wohlhueter attending by phone agreed other dwellings have been allowed on the industrial waterfront.

“Multiple places have slid under the radar under the guise of care-taker’s shacks and have gotten away with it,” Wohlhueter said. “At what point do we draw the line in the sand and say everybody else was able to get away with it and now this person is not able to get away with it?”

The assembly sitting as the borough’s board of appeals can overturn a planning commission decision based on four specific reasons. Those are if the assembly finds the commission made mistakes or made uninformed decisions, didn’t follow procedures or misrepresented the facts.

Assembly member Nancy Strand didn’t think those applied to the commission decision on this permit. “When I was reading this last night I couldn’t see where any of these four applied. The only thing that could possibly be questioned is the length of time it took to respond to his application.”

A decision on the permit did not come earlier because the planning commission was unable to meet this earlier this summer with a lack of quorum.
A motion by assembly member Wohlhueter to allow Menish to build what we wanted on that site died with a lack of a second.

Another motion, to wait up to 10 days to consider the appeal passed on a 5-1 vote. Only Cindi Lagoudakis voted no and mayor Mark Jensen was not at the meeting. The assembly may take the issue up again on Friday October 7th when it also meets to canvas the results of the local election.